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Christian Couple In Jail For 6 Years Over ‘Blasphemous’ Text Message Faces Delay In Trial

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A Christian couple who was sentenced to death, six years ago, for an allegedly false blasphemy case, are facing delays in their trial. 

Shagufta Kausar and her husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, a partially paralyzed man were accused of sending an offensive text message to a local imam in village near Gojra, Punjab in 2013.

The imam, Maulvi Mohammed Hussain, a prayer leader hailing from Gojra in Punjab, reported that Emmanuel texted him ‘un-Islamic’ from the wife’s phone which was offensive.

He claims that he was in the middle of his prayers when he was confronted with the message from unknown contact.

Hussain has also reportedly presented the message to other religious clerics before he approached his legal counsel for filing a case. His lawyer further claimed that he was sent a similar offensive message too, from the Christian couple.

Hence, a blasphemy case was registered by the police in lieu of the proof that the religious clerics provided, on July  21, 2013. The charges were “insulting the Quran” and “insulting the prophet.”

In Pakistan, during the 1980s the blasphemy laws were created and expanded in several installments. In 1980, making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages was made an offense, carrying a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

In 1982, another clause prescribed life imprisonment for “wilful” desecration of the holy book, Quran. In 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was “death, or imprisonment for life”, in that order.

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