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Pakistani Christian boy refused bail for blasphemy

Nabeel Masih, 16, accused of disrespecting Mecca's Kaaba pillar by 'liking' Facebook post

Pakistani Christian boy refused bail for blasphemy

Muslim pilgrims from all around the world circle around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, in the Saudi city of Mecca, in this Sept. 9, 2016 photo. (Photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

February 17, 2017

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A Christian boy in Pakistan accused of disrespecting the world's most sacred Islamic landmark has been refused bail.

Nabeel Masih, 16, has been kept in custody, despite lawyers arguing he should be released owing to his age and because he has no prior convictions, Premier.org reported.

Arrested in September 2015, he has been accused of blasphemy for 'liking' and 'sharing' a post on Facebook which 'defamed and disrespected' Islam's holiest shrine, the Kaaba pillar in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

World Watch Monitor, a Christian organization, which reports on believers under pressure for their faith, says a magistrate's court in Kasur, near Lahore, rejected the teenager's bail application last week.

Speaking last October during a previous hearing, Masih's lawyer Aneeqa Maria Anthony said she was confident [Masih] had committed no crime.

"Nabeel is innocent: the accusation against him has not yet been proven."

Amin Muzammal Chaudhry, a lawyer for the complainant told Anthony during the earlier hearing that Masih's case "is a blasphemy case and that this man has blasphemed against Islam."

Masih was reported to police on Sept. 17 2016 and arrested the next day, prompting many local Christians to go into hiding, in fear of reprisals.

Pakistan is ranked sixth on the Open Doors' World Watch List 2016 of countries where being a Christian is hardest.

The Christian organization reported: "Pakistan's blasphemy laws continue to be abused to settle personal scores, particularly against minorities including Christians."

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