Pakistan blasphemy accused freed

Pakistan – A Christian man, held in prison since 2005 on charges of blasphemy has been released from prison following a successful appeal.

Younis Masih had originally faced a death penalty following a trial which heard allegations that he had made blasphemous comments against the Prophet Mohammed. The allegations arose in 2005 when Masih asked a group of Muslims who were singing to do so less loudly. He was beaten by the group and later arrested. He has always maintained that he was in no way disrespectful to Islam. Cleared by a court in Lahore in April, it was not until November 28 that Masih walked free to join his family in hiding from continuing threats against him from militant Muslims.

The positive outcome for Masih is tempered by news from Pakistan that there has been an upswing in blasphemy allegations levelled against Christians by Muslims over the last month, with four separate cases coming to the attention of police in that time against one case per month previously.