A Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy for “liking” and “sharing” a Facebook post which “defamed and disrespected” the Kaaba in Mecca – the building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque – has been granted bail after four years in prison.
In 2018 he was sentenced to 10 years as the youngest Christian convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are frequently abused as a way to settle scores.
Source: World Watch Monitor
He will be released on bail until the paperwork to acquit him of blasphemy can be done, implying he should never have been convicted in the first place. His lawyer Naseeb Anjum successfully argued that there was no evidence that the ‘like’ had been posted or created by the then-teenager.
Nabeel Masih was 16 at the time of his arrest in September 2016 but is now 20.
His original lawyers had argued that he should not have been imprisoned as soon as he was arrested as he had no prior convictions and was a juvenile. However, a magistrate’s court in Kasur, 50km south of Lahore, rejected his bail application on 7 February 2017.
In addition, his lawyers had reported being intimidated by the complainant’s supporters as they made their Appeal Court appearance in October 2016. Aneeqa Maria Anthony said she was told by a lawyer for the complainant to “watch herself and stay away”. She also said about 80 people at the hearing had threatened Masih’s family.
In June, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to Eritrea reported serious human rights issues persisting in the country. Special note was made of faith groups being detained without any charge or trial. In fact, some Christians have been imprisoned for many years without a trial.
Let us pray.
- Praise God that Nabeel Masih was released on bail.
- Pray that Nabeel’s lawyers are able to produce the paperwork to acquit him of blasphemy.
- Pray for Nabeel and his family, that God would strengthen them as they wait for an outcome.