A Christian couple was arrested on Saturday (July 20) for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim cleric in Gojra, a religiously volatile city where a week before a young Christian man was sentenced to life in prison on the same charge.
Shafqat Masih, 43, and his 40-year-old wife Shagufta, who reportedly have four children between the ages of 5 and 11, were taken into custody on a complaint by Muslim cleric Rana Muhammad Ejaz, who alleged that he had received blasphemous text messages from Masih from a number registered in the name of Shagufta.
Gojra City police registered a case under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws for allegedly defaming Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Conviction is punishable by death or life in prison, which is 25 years in Pakistan.
Saying police coerced him into recording a false admission of guilt, Masih has denied sending the text messages, according to an official at a Christian rights organization who requested anonymity.
“Shafqat says the couple has been framed in a false case,” the source said. “He says that the police had forced him to record his confession before the magistrate.”