Asia

Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws Strike Again--and May Get Worse

Christian sentenced to death, nursing school shut down.

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws have been used against Christians in two recent incidents, prompting a louder by groups who say the laws are abusive.

Younis Masih, a 29-year-old Christian from Lahore, was sentenced to death on Wednesday, May 30, for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Muhammad in September 2005.

On September 9, 2005, a neighbor of Masih's demanded that Christians gathering in their town observe Muslim and not Christian rituals, precipitating an argument between him and Masih, according to Masih's lawyer. The resident accused Masih of blasphemy two days later, and a lower-ranking officer investigated and arrested him.

Masih's lawyer based his defense on the requirements of the law itself. In 2004, after increasing pleas for the amendment of blasphemy laws, Pakistan's national assembly made an effort to appease rights groups by permitting only senior police officers to investigate blasphemy cases, a measure which had not been implemented in Masih's case.

Masih ...

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