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Unprecedented Verdict: Pakistani Court Condemns Young Christian to Death in Blasphemy Case

Original article from ECSPE.org.

In a striking and controversial ruling, a court in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, has sentenced a young Christian, Nouman Maish, aged 22, to death. This decision comes in light of allegations that he blasphemed against the Prophet of Islam, a crime that is punishable by death under section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code.

The saga began back in June 2019 when Nouman was arrested following a police raid. Authorities contend that Nouman was apprehended in a park around 3:30 a.m., allegedly showing blasphemous images to a group of people. He was charged under 295-C, with FIR no. 366/19 filed at the Baghdadul Jadeed Police Station on the complaint of Sub Inspector Muhammad Arshad Nadeem, based on purported confidential information.

Nouman’s lawyer has voiced severe disappointment with the Session Court’s verdict, criticizing the lack of substantial evidence. “There was no compelling proof against Nouman, and the police’s witnesses couldn’t substantiate the blasphemy claims,” he stated.

Despite these claims, the Sessions Court in Bahawalpur went ahead with the trial, which concluded earlier in January this year. Following several delays, Nouman was finally handed the death sentence by Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Hafeez Ur Rehman on May 30, 2023.

The defense team intends to challenge this verdict at the Bahawalpur Bench of the Lahore High Court within the mandated seven-day period. Nouman is also embroiled in another blasphemy case in Bahawalnagar, with the verdict in that case expected shortly.

By Farrukh Saif

Farrukh Saif is a Pakistani human rights activist based in Germany. He founded his own organization, the Farrukh Saif Foundation (FSF), in 2009 with the goal of supporting marginalized and oppressed minorities in Pakistan who are affected by religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, forced conversions, abductions, rape, and bonded slavery. The main focus of the FSF is on the liberation of bonded laborers, particularly those working in brick kilns in rural areas of Pakistan. In 2018, the FSF merged with the US-based Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved. Throughout his career, Farrukh has been a leading voice for the rights of minorities in Pakistan and has gained international attention for his campaigns against the misuse of blasphemy laws and the belief that asylum is not a crime. In 2014, he played a key role in the release of hundreds of asylum seekers from Thai jails and has worked with his legal team to save numerous victims of strict blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Farrukh has also been invited by the Hungarian government to discuss his work and the issues he addresses. In addition to his work with the FSF, Farrukh has also been involved in various other humanitarian efforts, including providing health care services to internally displaced persons in Khayber Pakhtoon Khawa in 2009 and assisting flood victims in Sindh and Punjab in 2010. He has worked to aid victimized minorities in Pakistan and has a strong track record of successfully advocating for their rights. Farrukh joined forces with Keith Davies in 2018 to co-found the Emergency Committee to Save The Persecuted and Enslaved, and since 2009, they have collectively successfully rescued more than 36000 individuals from slavery and persecution.
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