Blasphemy Conviction of Two Christians Upheld by Pakistani Court
August 7, 2003 VOM News, Lahore, Pakistan--A Pakistani court has upheld the conviction of two Christians accused of committing blasphemy against the Islamic holy book. The Voice of the Martyrs has learned the Lahore High Court has agreed with prosecution arguments that Amjad and Asif Masih set fire to a copy of the Koran while detained at a police station in February 1999.The court stated that, "The act of the accused was calculated to out- rage the religious feelings of the Muslim(s)." The court also said, "There is not even a remote possibility that the police officials who were all Muslims could willfully dare or even think of desecrating the Holy Quran in the manner it was done." Amjad and Asif were originally arrested under a false charge of vagrancy. They claim Muslim police officers framed them and set fire to the Islamic holy book because the two street sweepers refused to pay them a $300 bribe. The two Christians received life sentences--the maximum penalty for desecration of the Koran under Pakistan's 295-B blasphemy law. Amjad's wife Kauser works as a maidservant earning only $16 U.S. per month to support their four young children. The Voice of the Martyrs is helping to pay the school fees of the children, including 4-year old Sundas, the daughter Amjad has never met. The assistance provided to Amjad's family is coming from VOM's Families of Martyrs fund. Amjad and Asif are expected to appeal the Lahore court decision to Pakistan's Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has regularly reversed the blasphemy case rulings of lower courts that are often threatened by radical Islamic groups to uphold false blasphemy convictions.
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