LAHORE, Pakistan — A Pakistani court on Tuesday sentenced a Christian man to death after convicting him of sending text messages containing “blasphemous content.”
Asif Pervaiz, 37, has been in custody since 2013 fighting blasphemy charges that were leveled against him by the supervisor of the factory he once worked at.
Pervaiz’s lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told AFP that Pervaiz has denied all charges against him and had merely forwarded the text messages in question.
“This case should have been thrown out by the judge,” Malook said, adding he would appeal the verdict with the Lahore High Court.
“He has already spent seven years awaiting the court’s decision. Who knows how many more years he will have to wait till this is over?”
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in conservative Pakistan where laws can carry the death penalty for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures.
Pervaiz claims his supervisor, who had been trying to convert him to Islam, had accused him of blasphemy after he quit his factory job.
Religious minorities, including Christians, are most at threat from abuses of blasphemy laws.
Up to 80 people are known to be imprisoned in Pakistan on such charges — half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty — according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Last month a man accused of committing blasphemy was shot dead inside a courtroom in the city of Peshawar.