In Pakistan, Can a Bill Keep Journalists Safe?

When freelance journalist Umer Ali traveled to the city of Pattoki in eastern Pakistan to attend a hearing for Nabeel Masih in December 2016, he knew the scene would be tense, and possibly dangerous.

Masih, 17 years old, had been accused of blasphemy—a crime that can carry the death penalty in Pakistan. Outside the courtroom, a mob of at least 30 had gathered to ensure that a harsh punishment would be delivered to the young man, whose charge was liking an allegedly offensive Facebook post featuring Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia. Masih’s family asserted he was innocent, arguing that he was illiterate and had liked the photo by accident.

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