ASIA/PAKISTAN – The Christian Younis Masih, sentenced to death for blasphemy, has been released

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – It is a day of joy for the Christian community in Pakistan: the 35 year-old Christian Younis Masih was released yesterday, with a decision on behalf of the Court of Appeal in Lahore. Masih was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a first instance court in Lahore on May 30, 2007. His case was re-opened in September 2012, by some Christian organizations such as "Legal Evangelical Association Development" (LEAD). On April 3, Masih was acquitted (see Fides 03/04/2013)and was finally released yesterday. Younis Masih and his family are still in a hidden place, since, despite being proven innocent, for the extremists he is guilty of "blasphemy" and could be killed.
Younis Masih had been languishing in jail since September 10, 2005. He spent a good eight years of his life in prison before the Court of Appeals confirmed his innocence. Masih had suffered a heart attack on January 8, 2013.
"I have four children and I have no job, no one is helping me. I live with the fear of being killed" said Masih to the lawyer Mustaq Gill, of LEAD, who followed the case.
Masih recalled two cases similar to his: that of Rimsha Masih, the mentally disabled girl falsely accused of blasphemy who now lives in Canada; Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010.
Gill tells Fides that "Christians in Pakistan fear threats, attacks, violence, discrimination and hatred. The law of blasphemy is always a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads: Their life is not safe even after their release from prison". "We appeal to our Christian brothers and sisters to pray for Younis Masih and his family", he concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/11/2013)