Dozens rally in Pakistan after a Christian man is sentenced to death for blasphemy

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Dozens of members from Pakistan’s civil society rallied on Tuesday in the southern port city of Karachi against the death sentence handed down to a Christian man on blasphemy charges, nearly a year after one of the worst mob attacks on Christians in the country.

Several Christians also joined the rally which comes a day after a court in Sahiwal in the Punjab province announced the death sentence to Ehsan Shan after finding him guilty of sharing “hateful content” against Muslims on social media.

Shan’s lawyer Khurram Shahzad said on Monday he will appeal the verdict.

He was arrested in August 2023 after groups of Muslim men burned dozens of homes and churches in the city of Jaranwala in Punjab after some residents claimed they saw two Christian men desecrating pages from Islam’s holy book, the Quran. The two men were later arrested.

Though Shan was not party to the desecration, he was accused of reposting the defaced pages of the Quran on his TikTok account.

At Tuesday’s rally in Karachi, a Christian leader Luke Victor, called for Shah’s release.

He also demanded action against those who were involved in burning churches and homes of Christians in Jaranwala.

Blasphemy accusations are common in Pakistan. Under the country’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, often a mere accusation can cause riots and incite mobs to violence, lynching and killings.

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