Preaching Christianity “not a crime”
Barnabas Fund, 6 September 2022
The Pakistani Supreme Court has issued a highly significant ruling, which includes the declaration that the preaching of Christianity “is not a crime, nor can it be made into one”.
The nine-page ruling is a clear denunciation of the way in which “blasphemy” laws are misused in Pakistan.
The court raises issues such as false and malicious accusations, the lack of credible evidence in many cases, and the mob violence often threatening the accused person.
The ruling came in the case of Christian sanitation worker Salamat Mansha Masih, accused of “blasphemy”, who was granted bail by the court on 23-24 August, one of three Christians facing separate “blasphemy” charges.
Salamat was accused, said Justice Faez Isa, of “preaching Christianity”. However, said the judge, this could not be considered a crime “because of the fundamental right to profess, practise and propagate religion”.
Justice Isa argued that “many a time false allegations are levelled to settle personal scores and cases are also registered for mischievous purposes or on account of ulterior motives”.
Courts, added the judge, must act “prudently to ensure that an innocent is not convicted wrongly in respect of offences relating to religion. When there is only the improbable oral testimony of witnesses, then there must be corroboration.”