Christian Accused of Blasphemy in Pakistan Dies in Jail

A Christian man accused of blasphemy died in a Pakistani prison on Sept. 9, the International Christian Concern announced Tuesday.

Aslam Masih died of a “treatable disease” after officials denied him proper medical care, ICC reported.

He had reportedly died of Dengue virus, an infectious tropical disease.

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“Once again, Pakistan has shown its contempt for the lives of its religious minorities,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia. “We urge the international community to pressure Pakistan protect the rights of Christians and other vulnerable groups in the country.”

ICC is an advocacy group for religious persecution.

According to ICC, a local human rights organization had appealed to the Pakistani officials to treat Masih but they refused, citing security concerns.

Masih was reportedly arrested in 2010 after having been accused of blasphemy by two members of the Tablighi Jammat, an Islamic missionary group.

The police actually released Masih at first for lack of evidence, only to arrest him again when faced with pressure from the local radical Muslim community, ICC said.

The incident added to a row of deaths and arrests related to the persecution of Christians in Pakistan. According to ICC, another Christian man, Qamar David, died in the Pakistani prison in March. Though the authorities cited a heart attack as an official cause, it is believed that he might have been murdered, according to ICC.

Two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy were also shot dead in July 2010 by Muslim extremists in Faisalabad.

Another similar case had place in 2009, when a man by the name of Falish Masih had been found dead in his prison cell, carrying multiple body wounds, as it was reported. The Pakistani police said at the time that the man had committed suicide, according to ICC.

One of the most famous cases of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan is the case of Asia Bibi, the first woman in that country to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

Bibi, still awaiting the solution of her case, had been accused of blasphemy by fellow field workers. A mother of five, she was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of Prophet Muhammad. She denied the charges.

Ninety-five percent of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, with 75 percent Sunni and 20 percent Shia. Only five percent practice Christianity and Hinduism, according to the CIA fact book.

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