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Judges failing to acquit Pakistani Christians in fear of extremists

by Marcus Jones

It's claimed judges in smaller courts in Pakistan are too afraid to let Christians go free in blasphemy cases due to the threat from extremists.

The country prosecutes anyone who is seen to be insulting Islam - with the death sentence often handed out.

In light of another Christian falling foul of the laws, Sajid Christopher Paul, President and Executive Director of Human Friends Organisation has said more needs to be done to make judges feel secure.

Speaking to religious freedom charity Aid to the Church in Need, he said: "Judges in the low courts do not feel as secure as the judges in the higher courts. The judges in the low courts do not have as much security as the High Court and the Supreme Court.

"I am not saying the judges themselves say they are insecure but the lawyers and everyone involved in cases such as this say that they don't have the same security so they don't make the bold decisions.

"The Supreme Court can make daring decisions like the acquittal of Asia Bibi because they have high-level security."

Last week Christian man Asif Pervaiz was sentenced to death after he allegedly sent blasphemous text messages to a work colleague. Pervaiz says his sim card was stolen and messages were forged after he refused to convert to Islam.

Christopher said: "The reason for cases like this is intolerance about co-existence. Christians are falsely accused. I've never seen a Christian commit blasphemy because of our teachings of peace and tolerance but they are always falsely accused."

Analysis of legal data shows that over the past 30 years there is a Christian victim of these laws in Pakistan every six weeks.

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