Last year in July, a Pakistani Christian man in Lahore sent a blasphemous poem to his Muslim friend on Whatsapp. He was summarily referred to a court by his friend who found the contents of the message offensive.
Today, Nadeem James, the accused, was handed the death sentence by the court over that case.
“James was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” – Defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel.
According to the petitioner Yashir Bashir, who was sent the blasphemous text, the contents of the message were insulting towards many religious figures including the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Anjum Wakeel, the defence lawyer for James, has a different version of events. According to him, James was wrongly framed by his former friend Bashir who suspected that James was having an affair with a Muslim girl.
Trial Held in Prison Over Security Fears
Given the sensitive nature of the case and the highly charged atmosphere, the law enforcement authorities had no option but to hold James’ trial inside a prison. They believed that after the countless threats hurled by the clerics in the area against James and his family, it was prudent to have the trial carried out in a secure place.
Blasphemy cases in the country have often triggered mob violence and damage to property, with the accused losing their lives before their cases concluded more often than not. In 2014, a Christian couple was tragically murdered at a brick kiln they worked at in Punjab after false accusations were hurled at them. Some people in the area who had a personal enmity with the couple falsely accused them of desecrating the Holy Quran.