Pakistani Christian Boy Faces Blasphemy Charges: Injustice Under Draconian Laws
In a distressing turn of events, a young Christian named Zaki Masih (22 yrs), residing in Sargodha, Pakistan, has been booked under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws.
The case highlights the severe consequences individuals face for expressing their opinions, as religious sentiments take precedence over fundamental human rights.
On July 9th, 2023, Zaki Masih, a resident of 98 Shumali, Sargodha, found himself entangled in a legal battle after being booked under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The charges against him are under sections 295-A and 298-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which pertain to acts intended to outrage religious feelings and disrespecting the wives, family, and companions of Muhammed.
The case originated from an application filed by Muhammad Awais, a local landlord, at the Sadar Police Station in Sargodha on 8th July 8th 2023. Awais accused Zaki Masih of labeling Muslims in the community as infidels and making derogatory statements about the community on his Facebook page.
The FIR alleges that Zaki Masih posted comments such as, “Even the nations that eat pork and dogs don’t commit such fornication as is committed by Ummat e Muhammadi, the lovers of Muhammad. The worst community of the universe is found in Pakistan. Spit on you infidels.”
Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting a religion or its beliefs. Violation of this section can result in imprisonment for up to ten years, fines, or both. Additionally, Section 298-A addresses the disrespect towards the Prophet Muhammad’s family, companions, or wives, carrying a minimum three-year imprisonment term and a nominal penalty.
Tahir Naveed Choudhary, a local community leader and former Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA), has spoken out in support of Zaki Masih, stating his innocence. According to Choudhary, “Zaki Masih is an illiterate individual who runs a small grocery shop in the village.”
Following the allegations, the entire Christian community in the area has fled their homes, fearing reprisals and seeking safety.
Zaki Masih has been arrested by the Saddar Police, adding to the distress faced by him and his family. BACA (British Asian Christian Association) has expressed their concern over the case and plans to visit Sargodha on July 11th to meet with Zaki Masih and his family, seeking further updates on the situation.
Tahir Naveed has asked for BACA to provide a safe house for his family and a solicitor for Zaki Masih. We need to raise over £5000 to make this happen. We are meeting with Tahir Naveed on 21st July 2023 and will offer whatever assistance we can. You can help us to save this young mans life by donating (here).
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“The case of Zaki Masih represents another instance of the unjust application of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which often disproportionately affect religious minorities.
“The charges against Zaki Masih raise questions about the freedom of expression and the right to hold differing religious views in the country.
“It is crucial for the authorities to ensure a fair and impartial investigation, respecting the principles of justice and protecting the fundamental rights of all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs.”