Imagine you are arrested and accused of committing a crime. The prosecutor tells your lawyer that he will set you free only if you change your religion. Would you do it to get out of jail?
Some Pakistani Christians accused of murder are standing firm in their faith and say they will not convert just to be free of the charges pending against them.
A prosecutor In the Muslim-dominated country of Pakistan, where Christians are a tiny minority of only two percent, has reportedly pledged that dozens of Christians would be acquitted of involvement in the hanging death of two Muslims if they convert to Islam.
On March 15, 2015 some Christians pledged to get revenge on Muslims after suicide bombers attacked two churches in the Lahore neighborhood of Youhanabad. The dual blasts—on Easter Sunday—killed at least 15 people and injured more than 70.
Christians took to the streets demanding justice, riots ensued, and vigilantes lynched two Muslim men who they believed were involved in the attacks.
Police raided homes in the Youhanabad neighborhood and arrested 42 Christians accused of participated in the murders.
Now two years later, attorney Joseph Francis, Executive Director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) says Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah told his clients they would be freed of the charges if they renounce Christianity and become Muslims.
Joseph Francis, CLAAS
"He told them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case," said Joseph.
Shah's deal is apparently nothing new. He reportedly made the same offer to some of the defendants six months ago. When contacted by a reporter to explain his unorthodox approach to justice, Shah denied he asked the Christians to embrace Islam, but he reportedly conceded offering "them a choice."
His admission came after he was informed that the defendants possessed a video recording of him making the offer.
The Pakistani defendants are not the only Christians to have received such offers of judicial leniency or acquittal of criminal charges against them.
Christians in Egypt and other Muslim countries report similar requests have been made of them. Some have told CBN News they would rather rot in prison, than reject Christ.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says special adviser for religious minorities, Knox Thames will visit Pakistan to "meet with government officials, civil society, and members of religious communities to discuss issues facing religious minorities."
Thames will also visit Turkmenistan and Oman during the March 29-April 5 trip.