A Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy, who spent 5 years in prison for allegedly insulting the prophet Lut, has finally been released and acquitted of charges.
On June 6, Nazir Masih was acquitted and freed from jail after years of support from Christian advocacy groups. Blasphemy allegations were raised against this Christian after he shared a Bible story with his friend at work. For this, he spent five years in jail in Lahore.
Before his arrest, Masih worked as a cleaner in a school for blind children. He worked there for over 20 years and was well known in the community.
He frequently met with Shahid Mehmood, a barber whose shop was next to the school and would chat as friends. However, one day during their conversation, Masih decided to recount the story of Lot in the Bible found in the book of Genesis. Mahmood considered this story blasphemy and reported him to the police, accusing him of insulting the Prophet Lut in the Quran (the Islamic version of Lot found in the Quran), leading to Masih’s indictment, according to International Christian Concern.
On August 23, 2014, Nazir Masih was charged with blasphemy under section 295-A of Pakistan’s Penal Code on allegations of humiliating and insulting Islam’s Holy Prophet Lut.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are some of the most stringent in the world. False allegations are common as the laws are frequently abused to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred. Religious minorities, including Christians, are often easily be accused of blasphemy and face dire consequences even when there is no evidence to support the accusation.
Pakistan ranks fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.