Jailed Pakistani Christians Offered Freedom if They Convert to Islam
Pakistani Christians imprisoned on terrorism charges for the lynching of two men after the 2015 church bombings in Lahore were allegedly told that if they renounced their faith and embraced Islam, their acquittal would be guaranteed.
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, a prosecutor reportedly told 42 Christians who were arrested after two suspected terrorists were lynched following the bombing of two churches in the Youhanabad neighborhood of Lahore that if they convert to Islam, he “can guarantee their acquittal.”
“Taking advantage of their presence at ATC-1 Lahore, Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah gathers the accused outside the courtroom and asks them to embrace Islam,” Joseph Franci, a rights activist helping to provide legal aid to the jailed Christians, told the Express. “He asks them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case.”
Franci added that one of the imprisoned men, Ifran Masih, responded by saying that he would rather be hanged than embrace Islam.
One of the defense attorneys, Naseeb Anjum, told the Express that a similar offer was given to the jailed Christians about six months ago. However, the offer went ignored.
“The government should get rid of such elements that bring bad name to the state by such acts,” Anjum said.
The prosecutor, Syed Anees Shah, initially told the Express that he did not ask the prisoners to embrace Islam but later conceded that he did give the prisoners a choice to convert after he was told that there was video recording of what he said.
The express reported that Shah hung up the phone during the interview to avoid discussing the issue.
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SOURCE: SAMUEL SMITH