Pakistan (MNN) — Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy back in 2013, has been released from captivity after seven years.
MNN reported on his case in 2013 and the extreme violence that followed his accusation. A mob of Muslims descended on the primarily Christian neighborhood of Joseph Colony after Masih’s accusation was broadcasted over the PA system.
Nehemiah of FMI says the motivations behind the violence weren’t exactly religious. “The government and business community wanted to grab this colony, this land. They wanted to build a factory on this land. So first, they tried to convince Christians of this area to leave this colony. When they refused, they just made a story and accused this guy Sawan. And they just accused him with a false charge of blasphemy and burned the whole town. Many churches, shops, and more than 200 Christian houses were burned. “
Masih was arrested. He also lost many family members in the devastating attack, Nehemiah says.
Seven years in prison
Despite the lack of evidence, Masih’s case has languished in the courts ever since, prolonged by threats from extremists. Even now that he has finally been acquitted, Masih can’t leave the prison for fear of attempts on his life.
Nehemiah compares the case to that of Asia Bibi, another Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy. “[It’s] exactly the same situation when Asia Bibi was released from the prison. Actually, she was not released from prison. She was inside the prison with the government. And the same thing is happening with Sawan Masih.”
Nehemiah asks readers to pray for Masih, who has lost seven years of his life in prison due to a baseless charge. “I always request brothers and sisters around the world to pray for Pakistani Christians. [Pray] they can stand for the persecution they are facing. They realize that many Christians around the world are concerned for them and they’re praying for them.”
Pray also that Masih will be able to safely leave the prison soon.
The header photo shows a mosque skyline in Lahore, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of FMI)