Lahore: A Christian believer who has been jailed in a fake blasphemy case has been severely discriminated against by the Lahore High Court, a lawyer has revealed. Imran Masih, who has been serving a sentence of blasphemy since 2009, has been denied 70 appeals by the court, according to his lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu in an interview with the Christian NGO Aid to the Church in Need. The case has already passed through the hands of 10 judges but Imran Masih’s detention is still pending.
Imran Masih was accused by some of the eyewitnesses of claiming that the books of the Qur’an were burned while cleaning the stationery shop in Faisalabad. Although witnesses claim that Imran Masih burned the books, there was much contradiction in the timing and date of their telling. Although the witnesses claimed that the books were found in Arabic, they were still in doubt.
All this has weakened the arguments against Imran Masih. Khalil Tahir Sandhu said the judges were reluctant to hear the appeal, fearing that the accused in the case were from the minority community, and because of the extremist Islamic groups who advocated harsh punishment for the accused. He says judges are concerned about their own lives. “Imran has tried his best to get justice and will continue to do so,” Sandhu added.
He accused the judiciary of seeking “evidence” after first arresting the accused. Corruption in the police department is also a major obstacle to getting justice. The extremist sections of Islam, the majority community, often sue the minorities for blasphemy because of personal rivalry. Imran Masih is being held in police custody for just over a month after the incident involving Asiya Bibi, who was jailed in 2009 in Punjab province for blasphemy. The court will consider Imran Masih’s next appeal on July 6.