A court in Lahore Pakistan has sentenced a 37-year-old Christian man, Asif Pervaiz, to death for committing “blasphemy.”
Pervaiz, a garment factory worker, has been in custody since 2013 when his supervisor accused him of sending derogatory remarks about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in a text message.
Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country, has strict blasphemy laws which prescribe a mandatory death penalty for the crime of insulting the Prophet, and strict penalties for insulting Islam or the Quran.
Speaking in his own defence in court, Pervaiz denied the charges but was found guilty and sentenced to death on Tuesday.
Pervaiz told the court his supervisor was trying to get him to convert him to Islam and when he refused to convert, he was accused of having sent blasphemous text messages.
The court order said Pervais would first serve a three-year prison term for “misusing” his phone, then “he shall be hanged by his neck till death.”
Pervais’ lawyer Saif-ul-Malook stated he would appeal the sentence.
Many human rights groups say blasphemy laws are often misused to persecute minorities or even against Muslims to settle personal rivalries.