Gujranwala: An anti-terrorism court acquits five Christians of blasphemy charges, sentences two to imprisonment

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An anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala has acquitted five Christians form the charges of blasphemy. During case hearing on June 20, Monday, the court pronounced them innocent and quashed the case against them. These Christians were charged of committing blasphemy in August last year.

Blasphemy law in Pakistan misused

However, two Christians were sentenced to six years of imprisonment, under charges of blasphemy and terrorism. Last year, on August 16, a case was registered against sixteen people including Christians and Muslims for publishing and displaying sacrilegious content. Afterwards 295-A and anti-terrorism act 11-W were added in the charge sheet against them.

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The case was registered against Pastor Aftab Gill, from Biblical Church of God in Gujrat and other Christians after they posted posters for an ordination ceremony. The content of the pamphlets incited great indignation and reprisal from the Muslims as he used the word “Rasool” (meaning apostle) for his father Pastor Fazal Masih (late).

These posters caused much nuisance for Pastor Aftab and other Christians along with the Muslim publisher who had printed these pamphlets. In this case, Sub- Inspector of Civil Lines Police station Mukhtar Ahmad was the complainant.

Followed by much ado, a Christian advocacy group CLAAS intervened and filed bail petition on behalf of the respondents in Gujranwala’s Anti-terrorist court. However, the Anti-terrorism court Judge Bushra Zaman only granted bail to the Muslim publisher Zulfiqar who had printed the posters, while she denied bail to all of the Christian respondents.

However, after few months CLAAS again filed bail petition in the ATC, this time ATC judge Bushra Zaman acquitted Shafqat Gill, Latif Masih, Younatan Fazal Gill, Mohsin Shoukat, and Zulfiqar, while Pastor Aftab Gill and Hajaj Bin Yousaf were handed down an imprisoned for six years.