Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pakistan: Another Christian sentenced to life in prison under blasphemy law

Another Christian man has been sentenced to life imprisonment under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, despite the absence of evidence to support the charge against him.

Zafar Bhatti was accused of insulting Islam in cell-phone text messages he sent in 2012. He denied the charges, and pointed out to the court that the cell phone in question was not his account. He had been held in prison since that time—in part for his own protection, because of threats against his life by Muslim zealots.

Pakistani courts frequently issue death sentences in blasphemy cases, but the court in Rawalpindi sentenced Bhatti to life in prison, perhaps because the evidence against him was so slim.

Pakistani Christians and human-rights advocates have repeatedly called for change in the country’s blasphemy law, which leaves enormous scope of abuse, allowing for false accusations. But legislators have hesitated to amend the law, and courts have been leery of finding defendants innocent, because of pressure tactics by Muslim militants.

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