South Asia

Pakistani Christians protest sentencing of man for blasphemy

KARACHI, Pakistan — Dozens of men and women from Pakistan’s minority Christian community staged a protest in Karachi on Tuesday against the death sentence handed down to a Christian man by a court on blasphemy charges.

Ehsan Shan Masih was sentenced to death on Saturday by a court in Sahiwal, Punjab province, for allegedly sharing blasphemous content on social media. The verdict comes in the wake of a mob attack on Christians last year.

Masih’s lawyer has the option to appeal the verdict in a higher court.

The protest, organized by the Christian community, Minority Rights March, and civil society groups, took place outside the Karachi Press Club.

In August 2023, a Muslim crowd attacked a Christian community in eastern Pakistan, vandalizing several churches and setting numerous houses on fire. The violence in Jaranwala, Faisalabad district, was sparked by accusations that two Christians had desecrated the Quran. According to police and community leaders, the attack began after allegedly desecrated pages of the Quran were brought to a mosque prayer leader, prompting announcements calling for punishment.

The incident underscores the ongoing tensions and challenges faced by Pakistan’s Christian minority, who often find themselves targeted under the country’s stringent blasphemy laws. Human rights organizations have long criticized these laws, arguing that they are frequently misused to persecute minorities and settle personal scores.

As the case of Ehsan Shan Masih progresses, it continues to draw attention to the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan and the broader implications of the country’s blasphemy laws.