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Persecution: Pakistan – More perversion of justice

August 2016

A Pakistani anti-terrorist court has acquitted five Christians of blasphemy charges, but two more have been jailed for six months under the blasphemy law and an anti-terrorist act. The case was registered on 16 August last year against 16 people for displaying and publishing material considered threatening, abusive and insulting.

In a statement from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the charges were brought when Pastor Aftab Gill of the Biblical Church of God in Gujrat published details about an ordination ceremony and used the word rasool (which means ‘messenger’) for his late father, Fazal Masih, who founded the church. This offended local Muslims, who complained.

On 1 September 2015 CLAAS applied for bail, but Judge Bushra Zaman only granted it to the Muslim who had actually printed the poster; all the Christians were denied bail. After several months, CLAAS again represented the case in court and five people were freed from blasphemy charges, while Pastor Aftab Gill and Hajaj Bin Yousaf were imprisoned for six years.

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