A Pakistani court has granted bail to a Christian man convicted in 2018 while still a teenager for allegedly insulting Islam through his use of social media.
Nabeel Masih was arrested for posting a picture of Islam’s holiest site on Facebook, according to a report by the Associated Press. He was 16 years old at the time.
He was detained after a mob accused him of committing blasphemy by sharing a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca via his Facebook account in late 2016.
The Lahore High Court granted bail to Masih on March 1, but his lawyer, Naseeb Anjum, was quoted as saying that it was unclear whether the young man would be freed.
Blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle personal scores in Pakistan, the AP report said.
In 2018, Masih became the youngest blasphemy convict in Pakistan when the court sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Anjum said he will try to quickly complete the paperwork to free Masih, now 20 years old.
Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, a lawyer for the man who leveled the accusation against Masih, confirmed that Masih was granted bail, but provided no further details.
Juliet Chowdhry, a trustee of the British Asian Christian Association, said in a statement she was happy Masih would be freed but noted that he “has lost many of his most important years of development.”
Chowdhry said Masih should be compensated for his false conviction to help him restore his life and the organization would pursue this for him.
“We call on Christians everywhere to pray for him as we continue the battle,” she said.
Last month, charges of blasphemy were also leveled against two Christians in Lahore.
The blasphemy case under section 295-A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code carries a mandatory death penalty.
Currently, 24 Christians are imprisoned on blasphemy charges in Pakistan.
One of the most well-known past cases was that of Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman who spent eight years on death row over a false blasphemy conviction.
In October 2018 Bibi was acquitted and she now lives abroad.
Christians make up 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 216 million.