Pakistani Christian Gets Death Penalty for Blasphemy

A court here found a Christian sanitation worker guilty of blasphemy on Thursday and sentenced him to death, in a case that set off rioting and the torching of a Christian neighborhood last year.

Although Pakistan has never carried out an execution under its blasphemy laws, it has often taken little more than the rumor of insults to Islam to incite lynchings and other violence.

That was the case in March 2013, when a Muslim friend of the condemned man, Sawan Masih, said that during an argument between the men, Mr. Masih had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Two days later, enraged mobs swept through Joseph Colony, a Christian neighborhood in the city of Lahore, and set more than 170 houses and two churches on fire. The riots caused panic among the city’s Christians, most of whom are poor and able to find only menial labor, and sent hundreds of them fleeing.

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