A Christian pastor, 51, living in Pakistan was just sentenced to life in prison for allegedly sending around blasphemous text messages.
Legal watchers say the Lahore High Court didn’t really have cause to convict the man, Zafar Bhatti, under section 295c of Pakistan’s Penal Code.
Rather, they say Islamic bias has overtaken the nation, and because of that, the court came down on him with a sledgehammer,
“Christian NGO’s up and down the country are galled by the decision to prosecute Mr Zafar Bhatti under section 295c of Pakistan’s Penal Code, a decision they say is due to an Islamic bias that has consumed the nation.
“Campaigners say there is no solid evidence that allows for the Lahore High Court’s determination on 3rd May 2017. Mr Bhatti who was a Christian pastor until his arrest was accused of sending blasphemous text messages from his phone, yet several reports prove that the SIM was not registered to Mr Bhatti and was registered to a completely different Computerised National Identity card holder (CNIC).
“Mr Zafar Bhatti was a co-accused defendant under blasphemy charges with Ghazala Khan whose CNIC card was registered against the phone SIM card. Ghazala who was arrested on 11th November 2012 was shown some leniency as she was a woman and was fairly immediately granted bail for her charges.
“In an extremely bizarre trial Justice Khalid Mehmood of the Lahore High Court refused to pass judgement against Ghazala on April 8th 2013, he tried to convince the petitioner Ibrar Ahmed, Secretary for Ahle Sunnat Pakistan to forgive Ghazala, stating that Muhammed forgave many people. Pakistani media groups labelled his compassion as a delay tactic (click here). At the time Ghazala asked for a the court to make a just decision of the crime and to exonerate her. However Ghazala insisted did not want to be forgiven by the petitioner as she felt that escape from her blasphemy charges in this manner would indicate original guilt. She remonstrated that as she was innocent of a crime she should be freed by the court on merit.
“Ghazala Khan (39 yrs) passed away in November 2016 after losing a battle with Hepatitis C, thus surviving the ignominy of being sentenced for blasphemy charges.
“Due to the security reasons Mr Bhattis case proceedings were conducted on the premises of Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi, where Zafar Bhatti has been imprisoned since July 2012. Mr Bhatti has faced several attempts on his life at the prison including an incident of poisoning on March 31st 2103, which left him bleeding from his nose and mouth and left him in critical condition for days.”