Pakistan Sentences Christian to Death for ‘Blasphemous’ TikTok Post


Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court has sentenced young Christian Ehsan Shan to death for allegedly reposting a blasphemous image of a desecrated Quran on social media.

Shan was accused of sharing “blasphemous content” on the social media site TikTok, which was considered to be a provocation of the anti-Christian mob violence that took place in Jaranwala in August 2023.

On that occasion, following accusations of desecration of the Quran, a mob of some 10,000 Muslim militants went on a rampage, destroying and burning as many as 500 Christian homes and about 26 churches in the Christian quarter of the city of Punjab.

The arresting officer, Amir Farooq, said Shan had shared “hateful content at a sensitive time when authorities were already struggling to contain the violence.”

According to the police, the young man did not produce and package the blasphemous content himself, but simply reposted it, after which it went viral.

Shan’s death sentence, published on July 1, requires him to first serve a prison sentence of 22 years and to pay a fine of one million rupees, after which he will be executed.

According to members of the local Christian community, Shan is a scapegoat for the mob violence, while those who attacked and burned Christian churches and homes remain unpunished.

“A grave injustice has now occurred. The verdict against Ehsan Shan symbolizes the virtual death of all Christians in Pakistan today. Only one culprit is being singled out for the violence and destruction that took place in Jaranwala, and that is a Christian,” declared the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance, and Settlement (CLAAS) in a statement.

Father Naveed Kashif, a local priest, said he wondered “why the court ordered such an extreme verdict when those linked to the attacks are yet to be punished.”

The case has reignited the debate on Pakistan’s blasphemy law and its implications, drawing attention to the urgent need for reforms to the law. Critics insist that the law is often misused to settle personal scores.

There have been numerous cases where individuals are falsely accused and imprisoned, while simple accusations can lead to mob violence and extrajudicial killings.

According to Catholic lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu, senator and minister for human rights in Punjab, such incidents “underscore the growing tendency towards mob violence in Pakistan, which increases the sense of insecurity in society.”

The abuse of blasphemy laws and the lack of judicial action “not only undermine the national fabric of Pakistan, but have significant repercussions at the international level,” he said.