A Pakistani Christian has been sentenced to death for “blasphemy” after reportedly describing Jesus Christ as the only true prophet. Ashfaq Masih, 34, a motorcycle repair mechanic, was accused of “blasphemy” in June 2017 by a Muslim customer. He was arrested shortly afterwards and has remained in prison since then.

The judgment was announced by the Court of Session in Lahore on 4 July.  

The accusation followed a dispute in which the customer, Muhammad Irfan, refused to pay for the repair of his motorbike on the grounds of his Muslim faith. Ashfaq insisted on payment as agreed, after which Irfan accused him of “blasphemy”, alleging that he described Jesus Christ as the only true prophet.

 “I am innocent,” Ashfaq protested in court. “The case against me is baseless, false and frivolous and framed against me just to destroy my business.”

The “blasphemy” laws in Pakistan are often used to make false accusations in order to settle personal grudges.

Christians are especially vulnerable, as simply stating their beliefs can be construed as “blasphemy” and the lower courts usually favour the testimony of Muslims, in accordance with sharia (Islamic law). Judges are often reluctant to acquit those accused of “blasphemy” for fear of reprisals.

Barnabas Fund

On 8 June the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence of two Christian brothers Qasir and Amoon Ayub for alleged blasphemy.