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Pakistan: Protests over Christian man’s death sentence in blasphemy case

The anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced Ehsan Shan to death for allegedly sharing a social media post that reportedly incited riots in Jaranwala last year….reports Asian Lite News

Several people from the Christian community as well as many members of civil society protested against Christian youth Ehsan Shah’s death sentence on blasphemy charges and called his conviction the “wrongful application of blasphemy laws,” Pakistan-based Dawn reported.

The demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club included members from the Christian community, the Minority Rights March, the Aurat March, and civil society representatives.

In the rally, people called for the release of Ehsan Shan and called for measures against those responsible for the arson of churches and homes in Jaranwala.

The anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced Ehsan Shan to death for allegedly sharing a social media post that reportedly incited riots in Jaranwala last year.

Judge Ziaullah Khan imposed a harsh penalty, including a 22-year prison term and a fine of Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 1 million, Dawn reported.

The riots started over accusations of desecration of the Quran and led to extensive destruction, including damage to homes and churches belonging to the Christian community.

Initially, Punjab police had charged approximately 135 individuals for attacking the minority community, but most of them were later released on bail, leaving only 12 still undergoing trial, according to reports.

This incident came nearly a year after a violent mob attack against Christians in Punjab’s Jaranwala.

The issue of blasphemy allegations in Pakistan is highly contentious and sensitive, often leading to severe repercussions such as violence and fatalities. False accusations of blasphemy are frequently used to settle personal vendettas, target religious minorities, or stir up communal unrest.

These allegations often trigger immediate public outrage and mob violence, endangering the lives of the accused and their communities.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), there have been numerous cases of baseless blasphemy accusations over the years, disproportionately affecting minority groups such as Christians and Ahmadi Muslims.

Several incidents have resulted in deadly violence against individuals accused of blasphemy or their communities. These incidents include a Christian couple who was lynched and burned alive in Kot Radha Kishan following allegations of blasphemy in 2014.

In 2021, a Sri Lankan national met a similar fate in Sialkot due to blasphemy accusations. Blasphemy cases in Pakistan often unfold in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, with inadequate legal protections for the accused.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly raised concerns about the misuse of blasphemy laws and the lack of due process in Pakistan. Despite both international pressure and domestic advocacy, the Pakistani government has been criticised for its failure to amend or repeal blasphemy laws. (ANI)

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