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Pakistani Christian charged with blasphemy over WhatsApp poem

11 July 2016, 20:32

Lahore - A Pakistani Christian was charged with blasphemy on Monday after his Muslim friend alleged he had sent a poem on WhatsApp that insulted Islam, police said.

Yasir Bashir said Nadeem James had sent him a poem on the messaging app that was derogatory about the Prophet Muhammad and other holy figures.

"Police have registered a case on blasphemy charges against Nadeem James and are searching for him as he has fled his home," a local law enforcement official told AFP on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter.

Another police official said that James' relatives had been taken into "protective custody" and that there was increased security in Christian neighbourhoods in the town of Sara-i-Almgeer, around 160km north of Lahore, because of local tension arising from Bashir's complaint.

Such allegations can trigger beatings and mob violence in the conservative country, which has strict blasphemy laws including the death penalty for insulting the prophet.

A Christian couple were lynched then burnt in a kiln in Punjab in 2014 after being falsely accused of desecrating the Koran.

Rights campaigners say blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal disputes in the Muslim-majority country.



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