In 2013, Asif Pervaiz was working in a garment factory where he was reportedly pressured by his supervisor, Muhammad Saeed Khokher (also referred to as Saeed Ahmed Khokher), to convert from Christianity to Islam.
On 8 September, a court in Lahore ruled that Asif was guilty of blasphemy, sentencing him to three years in prison for “misusing” his phone and fining him the equivalent of $400. After serving his sentence, he is to be put to death by hanging. Asif rejects the charges against him and intends to appeal the ruling. On the other side, Muhammad denies that he had ever pressured Asif to convert.
At present, more than 80 people are in Pakistani prisons on charges of blasphemy. The contentious law drew international outrage in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who was sentenced to death over alleged blasphemous remarks. She was finally acquitted in 2018 after nine years of imprisonment.
Despite Asia’s release, the ongoing threats of angered civilians made it necessary for her to flee the country to an undisclosed location in Canada. Even when not convicted, blasphemy allegations alone can pose risk of endangerment to accused Christians and their families.
Sources: Aljazeera, Deutsche Welle, Daily Mail, Morning Star News
- Pray for Asif and his family during this time of danger and suffering.
- Pray that the courts will rule justly on his behalf and that the government will curb such abuses by revoking the country’s blasphemy laws, which have been frequently exploited to target vulnerable Christian minorities.
- Pray for the many Pakistanis who are still imprisoned for their faith, along with those like Asia Bibi who continue to live in fear.
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