Remembering Martyrs: Samuel Masih

26 May 2024

“The blasphemy law in its present form has become more of an instrument of persecution and vendetta than of justice,” a Pakistani newspaper editorial stated.

Blasphemy means showing extreme irreverence toward something sacred, and for centuries Christians have been accused of blaspheming Islam. Often in Pakistan, contrived witnesses with false accusations have spoken out against believers, sending them to jail and even to death. Such was the case with Samuel Masih, whose body was found bloodied and battered, his skull smashed. Masih spent his days as a whitewasher and painter. He had just finished a job and stopped at the local mosque in order to use the bathroom. As he returned outside, bystanders grabbed him and shouted accusations. Masih’s accusers, knowing he was a Christian, claimed that he had spit on the walls of the mosque; two false witnesses confirmed this story.

Samuel was immediately arrested and put on trial. Under the maximum penalty for violating Section 295 of the Pakistani penal code, Masih could have been jailed for two years and fined, if convicted of “defiling a place of worship with the intent of insulting the religion (Islam).”

The pungent odour of urine and sweat filled the dirty prison. The sounds of coughing and scuffling feet echoed along the walls. Just down the hall lay Masih, struggling to breathe and continually coughing up blood. Although the head of the prison deeply resented his Christian prisoner, he sent Masih to the hospital to treat his advanced tuberculosis. During his stay, a policeman was posted near his bed. When Masih should have been safely recovering, a horrible crime occurred.

Early one morning, the police constable entered the room and swung a hammer down on Masih’s head. Bleeding profusely from his wounds, Masih fell into a coma and was rushed to the emergency neurosurgery ward, where he died a few days later. The Pakistani police constable who took his life claimed, “I wanted to earn a place in paradise by killing him.”

“This is a case that brings out, like nothing else, the myriad contradictions that these [blasphemy] laws have infused in this state and society,” a Daily Times newspaper editorial stated the day after Masih’s death. “The fact is that it is a bad law both in its conception and its implementation, and the legislation has created a psyche that encourages vigilante behaviour.”

Samuel Masih was arrested for a crime he never committed. His only crime was following the call of the one true Saviour, Jesus Christ. Masih’s murderer thought killing him would earn him a place in paradise. Samuel Masih, however, knew the one true way to get to Heaven, through Jesus Christ, and he is now with his Saviour.

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