Pakistan court sends Christian man to death for sharing anti-Muslim content

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A court in Pakistan sentenced a Christian man to death for sharing what it said was hateful content against Muslims on social media after one of the worst mob attacks on Christians in the eastern Punjab province last year, his lawyer said Monday, adding he will appeal the verdict.

In August 2023, groups of Muslim men burned dozens of homes and churches in the city of Jaranwala after some residents claimed they saw two Christian men tearing out pages from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, throwing them on the ground and writing insulting remarks on other pages, authorities said. The two men were later arrested.

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No casualties were reported at the time as terrified Christians fled their homes to safer areas.

Though the police arrested more than 100 suspects following the attacks, it remained unclear if any were convicted.

Ehsan Shan, though not party to the desecration, was accused of reposting the defaced pages of the Quran on his TikTok account, his lawyer Khurram Shahzad told The Associated Press on Monday.

He also said he would appeal against the death sentence issued Saturday by a court in the city of Sahiwal in Punjab province.

Amir Farooq, a police officer who arrested Shan, said the man shared “the hateful content at a sensitive time when authorities were already struggling to contain the violence.”

Naveed Kashif, a local priest at a church in Sahiwal, said while he didn’t excuse what Shan posted, he wondered “why the court ordered such an extreme verdict when those linked to the attacks are yet to be punished.”

Blasphemy accusations are common in Pakistan.

Under the country’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death.

While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, often just the accusation can cause riots and incite mobs to violence, lynching and killings.

On June 3, 72-year-old Nazir Masih died after he was attacked by an angry mob in May following accusations of blasphemy.

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