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#InTheNameOfGod?: Pakistani couple become latest victims of country’s Blasphemy Laws

A court in Gojra, eastern Pakistan, has sentenced a Christian couple to death for sending a text message deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

A court in Gojra, eastern Pakistan, has sentenced a Christian couple to death for sending a text message deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

On July 21 last year a priest at a local mosque accused Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar of sending him a text containing blasphemous content.

The impoverished couple, who have three children, denied the charges saying they had lost the mobile phone in question some time before the text was sent.

The majority Muslim town has a history of violence against Christians.

In 2009 a mob attacked a Christian neighbourhood in Gojra burning 77 houses and killing at least eight people, including children, after rumours that a Koran had been desecrated.

The couple’s defence lawyer said the family suspected their rivals of implicated them into blasphemy case to settle personal scores.

In late March Pakistani man Sawan Masih was convicted for insulting the Prophet Mohammed during a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood of Lahore last year.

He has since appealed against his conviction, saying the charges were trumped up to speed the eviction of minority Christians from their land.

After the allegations emerged more than 3000 people rampaged through Joseph Colony, torching some 100 Christian homes.

A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.

The country has had a de facto moratorium on civilian hangings since 2008.

Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by court martial.

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