A Pakistani high court has acquitted three Christians of blasphemy. The acquittal was the first granted to Christians so accused in Pakistan since 1995.

In a ruling issued in January by the Lahore High Court, Hussain Masih, his son Isaac Masih, and Iqbal Sahar Ghouri were cleared of charges that carried a potential death penalty under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. The court asked the police to investigate whether the Muslim accuser had fabricated the case against the Christians two years ago.

During the hearing, the chief prosecutor declared that "no direct or circumstantial evidence" could be produced to corroborate complainant Ijaz Ahmed's claims.

Ahmed, a Muslim neighbor to the Masih family in the village of Alipur Chatta, claimed that he had found burned pages of the Qur'an and letters containing derogatory remarks against the prophet of Islam in his yard near a wall separating his house from that of Hussain Masih.

The Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement and representatives of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan began researching the situation after Ahmed filed his case. The two groups found that Ahmed had a running dispute with his Christian neighbors. The Muslim had reportedly ordered Isaac Masih to stop playing hymns on a loudspeaker near the wall between their houses, complaining that his children were learning the words to Christian songs.

Village constable Mohammed Afzal admitted that Ahmed had gathered hundreds of Muslim religious leaders and threatened to set the police station on fire unless officials agreed to register a blasphemy case against the three Christians. Afzal registered the case, saying he did not have a large enough police force to confront the mob.

Local police issued warrants for the arrest ...

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