A Christian man in Pakistan has been charged with blasphemy for making a theological post on Facebook that Muslims said was insulting toward the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The man is now facing a potential death sentence for the post.
Sohail Masih in the Nowshera Virkan in Punjab province was arrested on August 5, according to the London-based Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance, and Settlement, an aid organization serving persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
Police charged Masih under sections 295-A and 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code, the latter of which prohibits derogatory remarks toward Islam or Muhammad.
"This is not the first case of its kind, and several Christians like Imran Nadeem, Nabeel Masih and Patras, Kaleem and Qamar David have been charged with blasphemy for sharing or having blasphemous contents either on their phone or on their computers," CLAAS-UK Director Nasir Saeed said in a statement to The Christian Post.
Saeed said it is difficult to prevent misuse of social media platforms when "others can easily harass Christians and ‘plant evidence' on them."
"An example: if someone shares blasphemous content to a Christian's page, this could result in blasphemy charges against the Christian, even if the Christian did not directly interact with the content," Saeed said.
Masih's Facebook comments were about the Islamic sacrifice tradition of Eid-al-Adha were reported by a local mosque leader.
"It is not possible that the blood of goats and bulls can wash away sins," Masih was quoted as writing in a post. "The incident of Miraj is based on a lie."
Miraj is an Islamic belief that Muhammad ascended to Heaven to talk with the prophets.
The Punjab Assembly also recently passed a bill prohibiting the publication of objectionable material.
"It is a very worrying situation as the misuse of the blasphemy law continues to rise and instead of taking steps to stop its misuse, the government continues to pass legislation which makes the existing law more stringent," Saeed said.