A Pakistani Christian has been sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in 2013, International Christian Concern has learned.
Asif Pervaiz, 37, was accused in 2013 of sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone and was charged under Sections 295-A, 295-B, and 295-C of Pakistan's Penal Code.
"We here at International Christian Concern are saddened by the court's decision to sentence Asif Pervaiz to death under the blasphemy laws," said ICC's Regional Manager William Stark. "We are especially concerned that the death sentence was made with reportedly no evidence being presented to support the blasphemy allegation against Asif."
Pervaiz was tried almost seven years after the initial accusation from a Muslim co-worker. Pervaiz's attorney said there was "no evidence" to implicate his client in the case.
According to Pervaiz's family, a co-worker had used Pervaiz's misplaced mobile phone's SIM card to send the blasphemous text messages he reported to authorities.
"The abuse of Pakistan's blasphemy laws must be curbed and false allegations must be rooted out and punished. Too often these laws have been a tool in the hands of extremists seeking to stir up religiously motivated violence against minority communities," Stark said. "Without real reform, religious minorities, including Christians, will face more false blasphemy accusations and the extreme violence that often accompanies these accusations."
There are currently 25 Christians imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.