Asif Pervaiz is a 37-year-old factory worker. He has been in prison since 2013 as he was accused of blasphemy. He allegedly sent offensive texts to his supervisor against the prophet Mohammad. According to the alleged insult to the prophet, Asif would be liable to be sentenced to death. In a similar case in July, a man was shot dead before a judge during a hearing. The crime he was being tried for was also blasphemy.
Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan
The blasphemy laws of Pakistan have been around for quite a long time. In the year 1980, derogatory remarks against Islam would result in a punishment for a maximum period of 3 years. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has tracked the data of Blasphemy convictions for decades. Minorities, such as Christians, are prominently targeted. In 2010, Sherry Rehman, a member of parliament, introduced a private bill to amend the laws. But this attempt was sadly slashed down due to pressure from religious groups and political parties.
Asif denied all charges to date. He claimed that his supervisor, Muhammad Saeed Khokher, tried to convert him to Islam. He sent the texts in response to that. These same messages were interpreted as an insult to the prophet. In contrast, Khokher’s defence was that no one else in the factory, especially Christian workers, has ever accused him of conversion efforts.
The court fined Asif an amount of Rs. 50,000 and prison time of three years leading up to execution.
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