BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Pakistani Christian sentenced to death
Pakistani Christian Anwar Kenneth
Anwar Kenneth (centre) leaves court after the hearing
A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian man to death under the country's controversial blasphemy laws.

Anwar Kenneth had written a number of letters last year claiming to be an incarnation of Jesus Christ and making sacrilegious remarks about Islam, according to the prosecution.

He pleaded guilty to the charges and refused to accept legal assistance for his hearing.

Human rights groups and minority communities in Pakistan have long campaigned for Pakistan's blasphemy laws to be repealed, saying they discriminate against non-Muslims.

Christians and other minorities are estimated to make up to between four and five per cent of Pakistan's population.

'Mental problems'

The death sentence has still to be ratified by a higher court before it can be carried out,

Guard outside church
Christians want the law changed

However, a Christian human rights worker Joseph Francis, told the BBC that Anwar Kenneth, a former government worker, had a history of psychiatric problems.

He said he should have been examined by a medical board before his trial.

He was arrested a year ago in Lahore after allegedly addressing a letter to a local imam and other people saying that he was Christ and attacking Islam.

Less than two weeks ago, a crowd beat to death a Muslim man in a village in Punjab province for alleged sacrilege against Islam.

The police say he also had a history of psychiatric problems, and had been acquitted of blasphemy five years previously on the grounds of insanity.

Earlier this week, an alliance of non-Muslim religious groups urged the military government to repeal the blasphemy law because they said it was being used to settle personal scores.

The All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance also wants the government to set up a judicial commission to review the cases of people wrongly accused of blasphemy.

Change mulled

The law was introduced in 1985 by military ruler, General Zia-ul Haq.

Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf considered changing the law

It proscribes the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad or other prophets and holy books.

Two years ago, General Musharraf considered an amendment to the law, requiring an enquiry before any arrest.

But he later dropped the plan after pressure from religious hardliners.

Although a number of death penalties have been handed out, none has been carried out.

See also:

19 May 01 | South Asia
30 Jan 01 | South Asia
10 Jan 01 | South Asia
05 Aug 00 | South Asia
17 May 00 | South Asia
29 Oct 01 | South Asia
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes