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Pakistani Police Search For Christian Man Charged With Blasphemy

Pakistani police were searching for a Christian man who faces a blasphemy charge for allegedly sending a sacrilegious poem via mobile phone to a Muslim friend.

Yasir Bashir lodged a complaint with police in Gujarat district in Punjab province against Nadeem James for sharing the poem
on the instant messaging service Whatsapp, police said on July 12.

James, a married man in his early 30s, fled the area after the police filed charges.

The country's blasphemy laws, enacted in the 1980s, carry a maximum penalty of death.

At least 1,481 people were charged for blasphemy between 1987 and 2015, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

Anyone accused of insulting Islam can arrested for blasphemy. However, the laws are often misused to settle personal scores and target minorities.

In 2015, Muslims beat to death a Christian couple and burned their bodies in a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

At least nine people accused of blasphemy were given death sentences and another three received life imprisonment between 2010 and 2015.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

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