After being imprisoned for seven years on shaky charges of blasphemy via text message, a Christian has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for sending the “blasphemous” texts to a man who had been his supervisor at a job the Christian man quit, Al Jazeera is reporting.
Asif Pervaiz, 37, has already been incarcerated since 2013 for allegedly insulting Islam and was found guilty in Lahore on Sept. 8 but denies doing anything wrong. He claims that his work supervisor, Muhammad Saeed Khokher, tried to convert him to Islam after he left his job.
Asif says when he refused to convert, he was promptly accused of having sent blasphemous texts about Islam to his boss.
Asif’s lawyer said Asif would appeal his sentence of a three-year prison term and a fine of 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($300) for “misusing” his phone to send the insulting text message. But the court order said Asif would be “hanged by his neck till his death” after serving the jail time.
Asif tried mounting his own defense during the trial, saying his boss confronted him after he quit the factory. But Khokher, the boss, denies wanting to convert his Christian colleague, according to his lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry.
Chaudhry said other Christians work at the factory and none have accused Khokher of trying to convert them to Islam, though this is fallacious and proves nothing.
Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws which carry a death penalty for people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, Islam or the Quran..
At least 80 people are in prison in Pakistan accused of blasphemy, with half facing life sentences or the death penalty, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.