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Pakistani Christian dies after prison beating

For the second time in a month, a young Christian in Pakistan has died of injuries after being beaten by fundamentalist Muslims, the Fides news service has reported.

Catholic World News reports that Samuel Masih died on Friday, after spending several months in a coma after he was savagely beaten by a Muslim jail warden.

Masih was serving a prison term after his August 2003 conviction under the terms of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.

Pakistani Bishops' Conference President Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha presided at a funeral for the young man on Saturday.

In public remarks, he condemned the killing, and also called upon Christians and other religious minorities to work for change in the country's blasphemy law. The law allows harsh sentences - up to lifetime imprisonment - for any "direct or indirect" insult to Allah or Mohammed. Christians have frequently complained that blasphemy charges are lodged, without evidence, in personal disputes.

Pakistani Christian dies after jailhouse beating (Fides/Catholic World News 1/6/04)

Pakistan president seeks review of blasphemy laws (CathNews 21/5/04)
Forced conversion to Islam fatal for Christian boy (CathNews 11/5/04)
Pakistan minority leaders criticise police over murder investigation (CathNews 11/8/03)

2 Jun 2004