LAHORE, Pakistan — Two young Christian males accused of blasphemy were beaten May 18 and ultimately charged under a statute that calls for the death penalty.
Morning Star News reports that the two males — Adil Masih, 18, and neighbor Simon Nadeem Masih, 14 — were engaged in lighthearted banter. Zahid Sohail, a policeman and neighbor, walked past them. He then beat them, claiming they blasphemed Muhammad (Islam’s prophet).
Adil’s father, Babar Sandhu Masih, told Morning Star that police later arrested Adil and Simon.
The two were charged under Section 295C, a blasphemy statute in Pakistan for which death is the punishment.
The complaint against them alleges they called a puppy “Muhammad Ali” and laughed about it, Morning Star states, quoting Adil’s father. The name is common in Pakistan.
As of May 10, 57 cases of blasphemy have been alleged so far this year in Pakistan, reports Morning Star, quoting information from the Center for Social Justice and from People’s Commission for Minorities Rights, both in Lahore. During that time, four people accused of blasphemy were lynched or killed in action and not taken by the court.
Pakistan is No. 7 on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.