Christian man charged with blasphemy in Pakistan 'for insulting Muhammad' in Whatsapp poem

Nadeem Masihm is on the run and his relatives have been taken into 'protective custody'

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The Independent Online

A Christian man is on the run in Pakistan after he was charged with blasphemy when a Muslim friend accused him of insulting Islam in a poem.

Nadeem Masih is alleged to have sent a poem to his friend on WhatsApp that was derogatory about the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic holy figures.

"Police have registered a case on blasphemy charges against Nadeem James and are searching for him as he has fled his home," a local law enforcement official told AFP, according to The Express Tribune.

Another police official said Mr James' relatives had been taken into "protective custody," while security had been increased in Christian neighbourhoods in the town of Sara-e-Alamghir, in Punjab province, because of local tension concerning the complaint.

Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws impose the death penalty for insulting Islam and allegations of blasphemy have spawned mob violence and vigilante attacks.

Critics say blasphemy laws are used to persecute minority faiths and settle petty grievances.

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

Although a majority-Muslim state, Pakistan has a Christian population of more than two million.