On July 13, 2013, Sajjad Masih, a young Christian man, was sentenced to life in prison by Mian Shahzad Raza, the additional session Judge of Gojra, a city of Toba Tek Singh District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The prosecution failed to provide any evidence against Sajjad, but the judge still sentenced him to life in prison.
Sajjad was accused – under the strict blasphemy law – of violating section 295-C and 25-D of the Telegraph ACT and the FIR (criminal complaint) was registered by Tariq Saleem, who was a resident of Kot Ghulam Mohammad city Gojra.
On Dec. 29, 2011, Sajjad Masih, through his lawyer Javed Masih, surrendered to police, as they were regularly harassing his family. The police tortured him to extract a confession for a crime he did not commit.
Gojra City is a very sensitive area for blasphemy cases. Earlier in 2009, due to a similar case, Muslims set ablaze the Christian colony and eight people were burned alive. The fire was started from the Korian Village, Dist. Toba Tek Singh and hundreds of houses were turned to ashes. Many families fled their homes and shifted to other areas of the country.
The area is also known as the home of the banned militant organization Lashkar e Jhangvi. It was reported earlier that the local government is backing up this organization and even after July 13, when Sajjad Masih was sentenced, hundreds of Muslims protested on the road of Gojra city to change his sentence of life in prison to a death sentence. They put banners all over the Gojra city.
- “The Only punishment for the blasphemer: Cut his head from the body. Life in prison is not acceptable… not acceptable… not acceptable.”
“Immediately Hang the Blasphemer and revoke the lifetime imprisonment. Oh ruler, act sanely.”
After we found out other NGOs had botched this sensitive case, by request from the family of Sajjad Masih, we decided to provide resources and try to help and secure Sajjid’s release. We helped the persecuted young man and his family with a legal team. Our lawyers, Mr. Javed Masih, Mr. Tariq Iqbal and Mr. Nadeem Hassan, filed an appeal against the judgement dated 13/7/2013 in the high court of Lahore. We also filed an acquittal application in the high court of Lahore.
Sajjad Family and Legal Team
It is quite unusual and surprising that two FIRs (criminal complaints) were registered against Sajjad Masih for the same offense (FIR number 820/2011 and 80/2012 under section 295-C).
We believed that G-d would help us rescue Sajjad Masih and restore his freedom, reuniting him with his family. And we were right. He was recently released, and thanks very much to RescueChristians.org.
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