Lahore: A Christian man in Pakistan has been handed the death penalty for sending blasphemous content to a Muslim friend via WhatsApp. A local court has found Nadeem James, 35, guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad and mocking Islam through a poem sent to his friend.
Nadeem James Masih was charged in July after his friend Yasir Bashir told the police that he sent him a poem on Whatsapp that was insulting to Islam.
Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and insults against the Prophet Muhammad are punishable by death. Majority of such cases are filed against members of minority communities.
“James was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday (14 September) on blasphemy charges,” defence lawyer Riaz Anjum said.
“My client will appeal the sentence in the Lahore high court as he has been framed by his friend who was annoyed over James’ affair with a Muslim girl.”
Wakeel said the case against Nadeem James was heard inside the prison due to security reasons. A police official said the family of James had been taken into protective custody and moved to an undisclosed but safer location.
Pakistan, a Muslim-majority state, has a population of nearly two million Christians.
The controversial blasphemy laws were introduced by former military ruler Zia-ul Haq in the 1980s and anyone charged under them becomes an easy target for extremists.
Civil rights groups argue that some Muslims use the laws to settle personal disputes with the minorities.