Pak court acquits Christian man on death row for blasphemy

Lahore, Apr. 5 (ANI): A Pakistani court has acquitted a Christian man who was sentenced to death for blasphemy six years ago in Lahore.

Younis Masih, 34, a labourer, was arrested in September 2005 from a low-income neighbourhood of Lahore after local residents accused him of interrupting a gathering of Sufi singing to make blasphemous remarks, reports The Express Tribune.

Masih's lawyer, Naeem Shakir, said his client was sentenced to death in May 2007 and fined 100,000 rupees, but appealed to the high court in Lahore.

Shakir said his client would be freed "in a couple of days" after he obtained a written copy of the decision and a detailed judgment.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the 180 million population are Muslims, and even unproven allegations can spark a violent public backlash.

Rights campaigners argue the blasphemy laws, for which the maximum penalty is death, are often abused to settle personal scores and should be reformed.

Last month, more than 3,000 furious Muslims rampaged through the Joseph Colony area of Lahore, ransacking and burning houses after a Christian was accused of blasphemy. (ANI)