Fearing attacks, the wife and three children of a Christian man in Pakistan have gone into hiding after a court sentenced him to death for sending a “blasphemous” text message seven years ago.
“She is in hiding because she feels threatened. She is trying to keep her three sons and daughter safe,” Release International, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, said, referring to the wife of Asif Pervaiz, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.
Pervaiz was given the death sentence by a ruling of a court in the Punjab province’s capital of Lahore on Sept. 8. A Muslim man, identified as Saeed Ahmeed Khokar, accused Pervaiz of sending him blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone on Oct. 2, 2013.
“The evidence on record was clearly not enough to sentence Asif Pervaiz to death. As usual, trial judges have so far never acquitted anyone accused of blasphemy,” Pervaiz’s attorney, Saif-ul Malook, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide after the conviction. “I hope he will be freed by the High Court where we have filed an appeal. Sadly, Asif will continue to be incarcerated until his appeal is heard.”
When Pervaiz learned about the charges, he also had to go into hiding. Police then reportedly threatened his mother that they would kill Pervaiz when they found him unless she helped them locate her son. He was arrested a week later.
Pervaiz and the Muslim complainant worked together at a garments factory, and Khokar would often pressure Pervaiz to convert to Islam. And before the alleged blasphemous text messages were sent from his phone, Pervaiz lost his SIM card but failed to request the service provider to deactivate it.
Pervaiz’s family believes that Khokar used the lost SIM card to send the text messages that he used to register a false accusation against Pervaiz.
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