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Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Life in Prison on Blasphemy Charges Is Acquitted

Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Life in Prison on Blasphemy Charges Is Acquitted

The Lahore High Court in Pakistan has acquitted a Christian man who was charged with blasphemy and being held in a Pakistani prison.

According to International Christian Concern, Imran Ghafur Masih had been originally sentenced to life in prison for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

But on Dec. 15, the high court ordered that Masih be released, CBN News reports.

"It is a day of resurrection for us," Naveed Masih, Imran's brother, told ICC. "God has heard our cry and we are very thankful to him. It's a Christmas gift for us."

In 2009, Masih was accused of blasphemy after he burned a book with Arabic religious writings. Masih was cleaning out his family’s bookshop and was burning old books and documents when he found the textbook.

He asked a neighbor if it was OK to burn the book even though the text had religious writing. The neighbor, Haji Liaquat Ali, told him to burn the book, but after Masih left, Ali returned and recovered the partially burned book. He then used the damaged book to accuse Masih of burning a Quran.

Masih’s family say the incident stems from Ali wanting to take over the family’s storefront and expand his business, which is located next door to Masih’s family’s bookshop.

Local mosques and community members heard of the alleged Quran burning and a mob of some 400 Muslims came to Masih’s home and attacked him, his brother and father.

Police arrived and took Masih into custody. At the police station, reports say that up to 1,000 Muslims gathered outside to chant “Hang him who disgraces the Holy Quran … Christians are dogs. Imran is a dog.”

In January 2010, Masih was sentenced to life in prison and a fine of 100,000 rupees (about $1,300.) His case was appealed but postponed nearly 70 times, CBN News reports.

According to the ICC, at least 24 Christians are imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jcamilobernal

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.