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Sohail Masih
Photo: Facebook / Sohail Masih

A Christian man was beaten and charged with blasphemy on August 5th, following comments made on his Facebook account about the Islamic celebration of Lailat al Miraj. The celebration involves eating sacrificial meat. In response, Sohail Masih allegedly posted: "It is not possible that the blood of goats and bulls can wash away sins. The incident of Miraj is based on a lie." The post came to the attention of a mosque leader, who claimed that "Muslims were extremely hurt" by the comment.

As news of the post spread, a group gathered and began to beat Sohail. Police intervened, taking him to the police station. When the crowds heard that charges had not yet been laid against him, they began to attack the station until the accused was charged with blasphemy.

With the help of police, Sohail's wife Shunila, and their two young daughters, escaped to another city where they are being protected, since mobs threatened to burn down their house. Investigations into the incident raise disturbing questions. Those who know Sohail, a salesman at a small shop, say that he could not write and did not know how to share a post on his phone. It is believed someone may have maliciously shared the picture using his account while he was helping a customer. His wife acknowledges that he had seen the post but had not shared it, nor would he have done such a thing.

Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws have been frequently abused, often as a way to attack Christians and even at times to obtain personal gain in business disputes. For more on the persecution facing Christians in Pakistan, go to our online country report.

Please remember Sohail in your prayers, along with his wife, young daughters, parents and others who are facing backlash because of this incident. Pray that the truth will be revealed and justice will ultimately prevail, bringing freedom to the innocent. Also intercede for Pakistan's governmental and judicial leaders who need to recognize the many ways in which these laws are being seriously abused. May they be willing to make the necessary changes, despite opposition from Islamic leaders and members of the general public.