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16-Year-Old Pakistani Christian Boy Accused of Blasphemy for Facebook Post Refused Bail for Second Time

A 16-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan who was accused of blasphemy for sharing a post on Facebook was denied bail for the second time.
Muslim pilgrims pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca. Reuters/Ahmad Masood

A 16-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan who was accused of blasphemy for sharing a post on Facebook was denied bail for the second time.

Nabeel Masih from Chak 66 Dina Nath village in the Kasur district, Punjab province, faces blasphemy charges for allegedly liking and sharing a Facebook post that defamed and disrespected the Kaaba in Mecca, World Watch Monitor reported.

A person named Akhtar Ali discovered the post on Masih's timeline. He filed the complaint against Masih in September 18.

"On 18 September, I was with my friends Bakht Khan and Saddam ... We took our friend Waqar's mobile phone and started seeing pictures of his various friends on Facebook," he said, according to another report from the World Watch Monitor. "But when we opened Nabeel Masih's profile, there was a picture posted in which the Kaaba is defamed and disrespected. Seeing that picture, our religious feelings were hurt."

On the same day, police vans arrived at Masih's village. The police raided his home and arrested him.  

Imran, a cousin of Masih, said he had no intention to hurt anybody with the post. He also said his cousin, who works as a factory worker, is illiterate.

"It was only a mistake by him and he clearly stated that he did not intend to hurt but to condemn the post," Imran said.

In October, "concerned Pakistani citizens" wrote a letter to Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Shairf asking him to look into Masih's case and extricate him from the charges against him.

"An illiterate sixteen year old sweeper's son charged under Sections 295 and 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code, stands to lose his freedom over a social media interaction; an all too innocuous action in the digital age that is neither defined in the Law of Blasphemy, nor the Cyber crime Law," the letter said.

The letter also said blasphemy accusations are often used as "instruments of persecution" against Pakistan's religious minorities. It also appealed to the prime minister to act promptly to save the life of teenaged Masih.

"We ask you in the name of humanity, justice and compassion, as a Pakistani, a father, a human being and the elected representative of the people of Pakistan to prevail on this obvious injustice and save the life of a helpless child who has his life ahead of him," the letter said.

Masih's lawyer filed for a bail in February, reasoning that as a minor with no previous record of conviction, Masih should be released. However, the local magistrate refused to grant bail.

His lawyer attempted to get him out on bail once more, but the Districts and Sessions judge, Naveeb Iqbal, refused to grant it as well, saying the boy committed "heinous and odious act by defiling the religious feelings of Muslims and their holy place of worship."

Judge Iqbal is the same judge who convicted Christian mother Asia Bibi of blasphemy. 

Tags : Nabeel Masih, Pakistan blasphemy laws, blasphemy, Persecution, Christian persecution, Pakistan Christian persecution, Kaaba