A Pakistani court sentenced Asif Pervaiz, a Christian, to death Tuesday on charges of blasphemy.
The Sept. 8 sentencing by a court in Lahore arose from charges that Pervaiz, 37, included insulting remarks about Muhammad in a text message sent to Muhammad Saeed Khokher, his supervisor at the garment factory where he had worked.
Pakistan’s state religion is Islam, and around 97 percent of the population is Muslim. The country’s blasphemy laws impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad. Although the government has never executed a person under the blasphemy laws, accusations alone have inspired mob and vigilante violence.
Pervaiz was also sentenced to a fine of 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($300), and three years’ imprisonment.
His lawyer told Reuters he would appeal the sentence. The lawyer has added that Pervaiz said he was accused of blasphemy only after refusing to convert to Islam, which Khokher has denied.
Khokher’s lawyer told Al Jazeera that Pervaiz “has taken this defence after the fact, because he had no other clear defence. That’s why he accused him of trying to convert him.”
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