ISLAMABAD: The case of Sajjad Masih is not usual according to an Adventist World Church official.
Mr. John Graz Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Adventist world church said Masih’s case is not unusual. “Members of religious minorities in Pakistan live with the constant threat of being accused of blasphemy,” he said.
He continues,“They know that if they are accused, they cannot count on a serious investigation.”
Michael Ditta, President of the AdventistChurch’s Pakistan Union, said,” the laws are notoriously used to take revenge on Christians and other religious minorities. Pakistan is 96 percent Muslim, with only 2 percent of the country’s population identifying itself as Christian.”
“We as a minority faith are concerned about the misuse of this law and growing intolerance toward Christians in the country,” Ditta said.
In spite of the fact that, Pakistan has been categorized as a “tier 1” country by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for “systemic, ongoing and egregious” intolerance toward minority faith groups earlier this year.
Withal at the police station, Sajjad Masih said,” he was forced, under duress, to “confess” to sending the text messages,” his defence counsel reveals. “He was subsequently sent to prison to await trial,” he said.
After a year and a half has passed since detained in District Jail Toba Take Singh, Sajjad Masih has been sentenced to life imrisonment, despite the fact that under cross-examination, his accuser admitted he had not received any blasphemous text messages as he initially claimed.
What’s more, official statements from Sajjad Masih’s colleagues confirm that,” he was at work in Pakpattan at the time prosecutors claim he sent the text messages from his former fiance’s cell phone.”
At world Church Headquarters in the U.S. state of Maryland, Graz and other members of the newly-formed Defence of “Members Persecuted for Religious Reasons Committee” are keenly examining Sajjad Masih’s case.
“We want our members and government leaders to know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church takes these cases very seriously,” Graz said.
“What is happening to Sajjad Masih is another tragic example of the abuse of blasphemy laws in some parts of Pakistan. Oppressing people on behalf of a religion contradicts the message of peace and justice to all religions that we advocate,” Graz continued.