The New York Times reported late last week that a court in Lahore, Pakistan, found a Christian sanitation worker, Sawan Masih, 35, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to death. This case began in March 2013, when during an argument with a Moslem “friend,” Mr. Masih was alleged to have insulted Mohammed, which, under Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy law 295(c), is a capital crime. The New York Times, the newspaper of record, intoned that “it has often taken little more than the rumors of insults to Islam to incite lynchings and other violence.” As if on cue, following the mere accusation against Mr. Masih, enraged mobs swept through the Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood in the city of Lahore, setting more than 170 houses and two churches on fire. The riots caused great panic and fear among the city’s Christians, most of whom are desperately poor and do menial labor. Hundreds of Christians fled the area.
A lawyer for Mr. Masih said that he would appeal the case to the Lahore High Court. In a statement following the verdict, Mr. Masih insisted that he had been falsely charged as part of a plot by businessmen to use blasphemy allegations to drive Christians from the land in Joseph Colony so that it could be seized for industrial use. “They hatched a conspiracy to push out the residents of the colony,” the statement said. “They contrived a case and got it filed by a person who was close to me. I am innocent.” Such things have happened all too often. Human rights groups have long observed how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used to settle personal scores and to persecute religious minorities. Sadly, many accused never go to trial, but are killed by vigilantes instead. The vigilantes are almost never arrested, and if arrested, are never prosecuted. As I have written on these pages, in 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the provincial governor of Punjab, was killed by one of his body guards after campaigning to have the blasphemy laws repealed. Two months later, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian cabinet member, who also criticized the blasphemy laws, was assassinated in Islamabad.
I don’t know about you, but I have a gnawing sense that many politicians are lying to me when they say that Islam is a “Religion of Peace.” We are told that we cannot blame an entire religion for the actions of a few. (Have you ever wondered why that same rule doesn’t apply to gun owners?) As I am getting ready to send in another regular annual contribution to our Internal Revenue Service, I am disgusted about how billions of dollars of U.S.-taxpayer “aid” are sent annually to Pakistan and other Islamic countries that persecute Christians. Regular readers of Touchstone and Mere Comments know that almost every day we read stories of Moslem men killing their sisters, wives, and daughters for the sake of their family’s “honor.” We hear of Moslems rioting, as in this case, over some unproven offense; of Moslems murdering Christian and Jews (and frankly, plenty of other Moslems) because they aren’t “believers,” or are not “believers enough.” We hear of Moslems burning schools for girls, and stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery.” We hear of Moslems regularly performing female genital mutilation. And all of this is done because the Koran and Sharia laws say that it must be done this way. Let’s see whether Messrs. Obama and Kerry will say anything about the injustice against Mr. Masih. But somehow I doubt it. I was even surprised that it was reported in the New York Times. At least, that is one man’s view. Please pray for Mr. Masih and his lawyers as he now sits on death row.