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Christian Charged With 'Blasphemy' in Pakistan Denied Bail

A young Christian man who was charged under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws with desecrating the Quran, has been denied bail by a judge, despite what sources say is lack of evidence against him.

Khuram Masih, 23, has been held in a Pakistani prison since Dec. 5, after his Landlord Zulfigar Ali accused him of burning pages of the Quran to make tea.

 Under section 295- B desecration of the Quran is punishable with life imprisonment.

Masih argues that he was falsely accused of burning the Quran after a fight with his landlord over the price of rent of the apartment he and his wife share.

Masih's former lawyers, Muhammad Farhad Tirmizi and Liaqat John, petitioned for his bail, arguing that the entire case was based on hearsay, and that there was no incriminating evidence to support the case.

Judge Anjum Raza Syed however refused to grant bail saying the issue was "very sensitive, and bail to the accused would fan religious sentiments and cause a great mishap."

According to Compass News Direct, Asif Aqeel, executive director of the Community Development Initiative (CDI), an affiliate of the European Centre for Law and Justice said the judges in the Pakistani trial court cannot simply set those accused with blasphemy free on bail, because they are under extreme pressure from religious quarters.

"The accused have to spend several months, even years, in jail without bail, just because the judges are unwilling to put their own lives at risk from religious extremists," he said.

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