A CHRISTIAN man has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for sending “blasphemous” texts to a former boss after he tried to convert him to Islam.
Asif Pervaiz, 37, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court on Tuesday, seven years since he first entered custody.
Saif-ul-Malook, Pervaiz’s lawyer, told Al Jazeera: “The complainant was a supervisor in a hosiery factory where Asif was working under him.
“He denied the allegations and said that this man was trying to get him to convert to Islam.”
Speaking in his own defence at the trial, Pervaiz claims after quitting his job at the factory, his supervisor tried to convert him to Islam.
Muhammad Saeed Khokher, Pervaiz’s former supervisor, denied wanting to convert Parvaiz, according to his lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry.
“He has taken this defence after the fact because he had no other clear defence,” Chaudhry told Al Jazeera.
“That’s why he accused him of trying to convert him.”
Chaudhry told the court that there were other Christian employees at the hosiery factory and none of them have accused him of trying to convert them to Islam.
Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws which carry the death penalty for the crime of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, the Quran and certain important Muslims figures.
There are 80 people in prison in Pakistan for the crime of “blasphemy”, with at least half of them facing the death penalty or life sentences, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
98% of the population in Pakistan follow Islam and some human rights groups say the blasphemy laws are used to intimidate minorities such as Christians and Hindus.
This month has seen a sharp rise in blasphemy cases being registered in Pakistan particularly in the province of Punjab, where the population is made up of a 15% Shia Muslim minority.
In one of the most high-profile blasphemy cases in Pakistan’s history, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi was acquitted in 2018 after spending eight years on death row on blasphemy charges.