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March 28, 2014

Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Death

by VOA News

A Pakistani court has sentenced to death a Christian man accused of blasphemy in a case that sparked a riot in the eastern city of Lahore.

Sawan Masih was arrested last year after a friend accused him of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Thousands of Muslims rampaged through Joseph Colony, a Christian area of Lahore, to protest the alleged blasphemous remarks.

Amnesty International condemned Masih's conviction and sentencing, saying there were "serious concerns" about the fairness of the trial. The organization described Pakistan's blasphemy laws as "draconian."

Amnesty's Deputy Asia Pacific Director said "an argument between two friends is not a basis for sending anyone to the gallows." He said the sentencing is a "travesty of justice."

Muslim-majority Pakistan has some of the world's toughest penalties against blasphemy. Anyone found guilty of insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad faces the death penalty.