A Christian man in Pakistan was arrested over the weekend and could face life in prison after residents in his community said he placed pages of the Quran in a drain.
The charges against the man, David Masih, were made under Pakistan’s so-called blasphemy laws, which often target religious minorities and prohibit desecration of Islam.
All total, 25 Christians are currently imprisoned on blasphemy charges, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), which reported Masih’s arrest.
Masih lives in Pakistan’s Khybar Pakhtunkhwa province. Residents in the city of Nowshera say he was guilty of blasphemy by mishandling the Quran. A video of the pages in the drain was posted to social media and reportedly went viral, according to ICC.
Masih could face life in prison if found guilty.
“In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred,” ICC reported. “Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were strengthened in 1987. From ‘87 through 2017, 1,535 individuals were accused of breaking the blasphemy laws. Of those accusations, 54 percent involved religious minorities, ICC reported. Christians comprise 15.5 of the blasphemy accusations, despite making up only 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population