10:22 GMT22 September 2020
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    A court in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Tuesday sentenced a Christian man to death for allegedly committing blasphemy.

    Asif Pervaiz, 37, has been in custody since 2013, when he was accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a former boss at work, the man’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, recently told Al Jazeera.

    "The complainant was a supervisor in a hosiery factory where Asif was working under him," Malook told the outlet.

    "He denied the allegations and said that this man was trying to get him to convert to Islam,” Malook added.

    During his testimony on Tuesday, Pervaiz denied the charges and said that his supervisor accused him of sending blasphemous text messages after he refused to change his religion.

    However, the complainant in the case, Muhammad Saeed Khokher, has denied attempting to convert Pervaiz to Islam.

    "He has taken this defense after the fact, because he had no other clear defense," Khokher’s lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, told Al Jazeera. "That's why he accused him of trying to convert him."

    Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, those found guilty of the crime can be issued the death penalty. 

    According to a 2019 report by the Human Rights Watch, at least 1,472 people were charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy provisions between 1987 and 2016. In addition, although no executions have been carried out, at least 17 people convicted of blasphemy in the country were on death row at the time the report was released.

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