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Christian Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

09-08-2014

A Pakistan court sentenced a Christian man to death for blasphemy.

Last March, in the city of Lahore, a Muslim man accused Sawan Masih of insulting Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

Even though police arrested Masih, a Muslim mob rampaged through a Christian neighborhood, destroying homes and forcing hundreds of Christian families to flee.

Amnesty International condemned Masih's conviction and sentencing. The organization said there were serious concerns about the fairness of his trial and called for his immediate release.

The organization also called on Pakistan to bring to trial the people responsible for attacking the Christian homes.

"Failure to do so will effectively send the message that anyone can commit outrageous abuses and excuse them as defense of religious sentiments," David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific director, said.

Pakistan's blasphemy law has existed since before the country's 1947 founding. During the 1980s, the U.S.-backed military dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, amended it to add the death penalty and single out Islam as the religion that may not be insulted, among other changes.

Those laws are often used to intimidate and persecute Christians.

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