Pakistani Christian faces blasphemy charge over "derogatory" poem

Pakistan police on Tuesday were searching for a Christian man who faces a blasphemy charge for allegedly sending a sacrilegious poem via mobile phone to a Muslim friend.

Yasir Bashir lodged a complaint on Sunday with police in Gujarat district in Punjab province against Nadeem James for sharing the poem on the instant messaging service Whatsapp, local police officer inspector Sana Ullah told dpa.   

"We registered the case after seeing the derogatory contents of the poem on the mobile phone and are trying to arrest the accused," he said.

Ullah refused to discuss the poem's contents.

"It is very insulting. That is why we registered the case. I am sorry for reading it for the sake of the case," he said.

James, a married man in his early 30s, fled the area after the charges were filed.

The country's blasphemy laws were enacted by former military ruler Ziaul Haq in the 1980s and carry a maximum penalty of death.

At least 1,481 people were charged for blasphemy between 1987 and 2015, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

The charged included 736 Muslims, 502 Ahmadiyyas, 206 Christians, 26 Hindus and 11 people who professed no religion.  

At least nine people accused of blasphemy were given death sentences and another three received life imprisonment between 2010 and 2015.

There have been no executions so far in blasphemy cases.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 13:47
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