Pakistani Christian pastor given life sentence for blasphemy faces daily torture in jail

A Christian pastor who has been handed a life sentence for blasphemy is facing daily torture and death threats inside a prison in Pakistan, according to his wife.

(REUTERS / Faisal Mahmood)Members of the Pakistani Christian community hold placards and wooden crosses during a demonstration to condemn the death of a Christian couple in a village in Punjab province on Tuesday, in Islamabad November 5, 2014.

Pastor Zhafar Bhatti, 51, has been in jail since July 2012 over allegations that he sent blasphemous text messages using his mobile phone, though reports prove that the SIM card used to send the blasphemous texts was not registered under his name. On May 6, his wife Nawab Bibi spoke to British Pakistani Christian Association and revealed the torture and threats that the Christian pastor has to deal with in prison on a daily basis.

"There have been numerous attempts to kill my husband - he is bullied everyday and he is not safe from inmates and prison staff alike. Every day I worry that I will receive word that he is dead, this worry is making me very age quickly," Bibi told BPCA. "I pray for him every day and when we meet we cry together and pray seeking God's intervention.  I know God will free him one day but ask for Christians across the world to pray for him and to challenge their governments to help him."

There was one incident in 2013 in which Bhatti bled from his nose and mouth because of poisoning, and he was in critical condition for several days. In 2014, he narrowly escaped death at the hands of a rogue prison guard who wanted to kill all prisoners accused of blasphemy against Islam.

Bibi said her husband became the target of Muslims when they saw the rapid growth of his church. She also said she wishes that the people who persecute them would realize that Christians are not evil and that the same God created them.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has sent text messages to millions of citizens warning them not to upload and share blasphemous content over the internet. The same message was posted on the website of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in Urdu, the AFP reports.

A representative from the PTA explained that the text messages were sent to all mobile phone subscribers upon a court order.