16-year-old Christian boy is the latest victim of Pakistan's blasphemy law

A Pakistani boy has been charged with blasphemy for speaking with a colleague about Jesus, according to World Watch Monitor.

Shahzad Masih, 16, who works as a hospital cleaner in the city of Dinga, was arrested last week after his colleague accused him of insulting Mohammad.

Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Lahore.Reuters

The colleague, Ishtiaq Ahmed Jalali, is a member of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan, an Islamist organisation devoted to Mohammad.

According to Masih's father, an argument broke out between them. 'My son told him that we follow Jesus and then their discussion became sour, at which point a doctor intervened and calmed them down,' he said.

However, another man, Nadeem Ahmed, reported Masih to the police and he was arrested for blasphemy.

A leader of Tehreek-e-Tahfuz-e-Islam Pakistan told a TV station the following day: 'If the blasphemer is acquitted of the charge then each member of our organisation would attack him.'

Former Punjab parliamentarian Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, leader of the largest Christian political party, told World Watch Monitor that he personally investigated the matter and found the initial argument was over Shahzad Masih's colleague's attempts to convert him to Islam.

'When our people try to defend themselves and their faith then often it becomes an issue and later such cases are lodged,' he said.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have drawn international condemnation and are frequently used to settle scores against religious minorities. One high-profile victim, Asia Bibi, has been on death row for many years. 

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