A Pakistani Christian, sentenced to death for blasphemy, continues to keep hope for his release, despite the odds.
Sawan Masih, a 26-year-old father of three, was accused of using “derogatory remarks against the prophet Mohammed” when arguing with a Muslim friend.
It is widely asserted by human rights organizations that many take advantage of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, particularly to unfairly settle property disputes.
Shortly after the allegations against Masih came to light, a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore was mobbed by an estimated 3,000 Muslims who burned churches and desecrated Bibles.
A letter was sent to Fides News Agency by Joseph Francis, leader of the Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS), who has followed cases involving persecuted Christians and visited Masih in prison.
“Unfortunately, extremists are becoming very powerful, and sometimes even the courts and the police seem powerless, as for example in the case of Asia Bibi,” he said, referring to another case involving a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.
Regarding Masih, Francis said that he continues to maintain his innocence and is obviously concerned for his wife and children. Despite his sufferings, he continues to pray every day for those involved in his case and all who are persecuted in his country.
“Masih also prays for the judges in his daily prayer, so that God deepens their courage, and are able to apply true justice in their decisions,” Francis wrote.
Fides News Agency also reported a message from Masih, who said: “I am grateful to those who are praying for me and my family and I ask everyone to continue to pray for me. God knows me, he knows that I am innocent and will give me freedom.”</p>
Beseeching the Pope
The similar case of Asia Bibi has dragged on for five years, with the latest update being a letter she penned to the Pope after the Pakistan Supreme Court denied her appeal and confirmed her death sentence last month.
“Pope Francis, I am your daughter Asia Bibi. I urge you: pray for my salvation and my freedom. At this point I can only entrust [myself] to God Almighty who can do anything for me,” Bibi wrote.
Bibi’s defense team awaited the Court’s explanation of the reasoning for the decision, and are now preparing the third and last stage of appeals.