Pakistani Christian dad arrested for blasphemy after Muslim demands free bike repair service

A young Christian father in Lahore, Pakistan, was reportedly arrested on June 16 after a Muslim who refused to pay for a bicycle tire repair bill accused him of blasphemy.

(REUTERS / Damir Sagolj - RTSSNDN)A man on an electric scooter rides past fallen rental bicycles as a wave of cold weather with sub-zero temperatures hits Beijing, China November 21, 2016.

On June 15, Mohammad Irfan refused to pay Ishfaq Masih the amount due for the repair of his bicycle tire in Lahore's Green Town, according to the latter's brother Mahmood. An argument ensued after the Muslim customer said the Christian worker should not demand money from someone like him, Morning Star News detailed.

"During the argument, Irfan said that he obeys only one master, Prophet Muhammad, to which Ishfaq said that he was a Christian and his faith ends at Christ," Mahmood shared. "Upon hearing this, Irfan raised a clamor that Ishfaq had blasphemed against Muhammad. Soon a mob gathered at the spot, and someone called the police, who took Ishfaq into custody."

Speaking to Morning Star News, Ishfaq's attorney Riaz Anjum said the owner of the building where the repair shop was located had filed a blasphemy report against Ishfaq, citing Irfan and four other Muslims as witnesses. However, the attorney said only his client and the Muslim customer were present when the argument took place.

In addition, Anjum said the blasphemy complaint was weak because it did not specify what his client had allegedly said, plus it exposed the lack of police investigation prior to the registration of the report. The attorney is now hoping that Ishfaq would be freed on bail.

Earlier this month, an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur sentenced 30-year-old Taimoor Raza to death for blasphemy. The man had allegedly blasphemed against the prophet Muhammad on Facebook, The Guardian reported.

Last year, Raza was arrested after he engaged in a Facebook debate over Islam with a counter-terrorism agent. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said he was one of the 15 arrested on similar charges amid Pakistan's widespread crackdown on online content deemed as dissent or blasphemy.