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Christian father imprisoned despite another boy’s confession

Zimran Asim, a devoted Catholic father, is still incarcerated after six months on false blasphemy charges in Lahore, Pakistan.

According to Zeeshan Asim, the defendant’s brother: “The allegations against my younger brother are completely false and baseless. Police have maliciously named him as an accused in the three cases of blasphemy even though his co-accused has confessed that he had carried out the actions single-handedly.”

Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department and police arrested Zimran in Chak No. 37 village, Punjab Province on the 27th of August last year. He had been charged with desecration of the Quran and writing blasphemous content at three scenes. His family was forced to leave their home after this. 

Their 17-year-old neighbour, Akash Masih later confessed that he was the perpetrator. Police identified him from CCTV footage of a bookstore where he had purchased the Quran. His actions were in response to Muslim attacks on Christian homes and businesses on the 16th of August. 

Zimran’s brother confirmed: ” Zimran got implicated with Akash because one day he had taken the boy on his motorcycle to get a gas cylinder filled from a neighbouring village. When the police circulated Akash’s photo taken from the CCTV footage in a bid to trace him, the gas vendor recognized him and informed the police that he had seen the boy with Zimran. This is how my brother landed in police custody. Akash told police that he was angry at the Muslims for persecuting Christians and burning churches in Jaranwala. Zimran also told us that though Akash had categorically absolved him of involvement, the police still named him as an accessory in the three cases. Police claim they have concrete evidence against Akash, but they have no proof of my brother’s involvement.”

Akash and Zimran Asim were detained under Sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C and 298-A of the blasphemy statutes for three incidents that took place on the 16th of July, the 20th and 25th of August. According to Pakistani laws, violations under 295-C, blaspheming Muhammad carries a compulsory death sentence. Despite attempts to release Zimran, he is still imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

Local church leaders made it clear they absolutely disagreed with the decision. Church of Pakistan President Bishop Azad Marshall said: “Instead of investigating the underlying reasons of such attacks and addressing the root cause, i.e. misuse of the harsh blasphemy laws, the police are arresting and harassing innocent Christians and trying to cover up the truth behind the violent attacks in Jaranwala by blaming foreign intelligence.”


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