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Pakistani Man Appeals Death Sentence on Blasphemy Charge

Pakistani Man Appeals Death Sentence on Blasphemy Charge

A Pakistani Christian man, sentenced to death for blasphemy, is making an appeal to the Lahore High Court.

Sawan Masih, 26, has been in jail since March 2013 after he was accused of saying in an argument: “Jesus is true, he is the son of God. He will come to save me, while the Muslims’ Prophet is fake.” Masih was arguing with a Muslim friend.

After the accusation, 3,000 people attacked the mostly Christian neighborhood where Masih had argued. The crowd burned down more than 175 Christian homes and two churches.

Chapman Masih, Sawan's father, told the BBC: "My son is innocent... we are not being treated fairly."

According to a recent report from a US governmental advisory panel, Pakistan is the most aggressive user of blasphemy laws. Fourteen people are awaiting execution and another 19 are serving life sentences for blasphemy crimes.

Among the other cases is that of a mentally-ill British man who was sentenced to death in January for sending letters in which he claimed to be the prophet Mohammad.

"Unfortunately the blasphemy law has become a powerful tool in the hands of extremists and is continually being used to attack churches, burn down Christian towns and villages and also kill innocent people,” said Nasir Saeed, director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement.

Pakistan is 97 percent Muslim.