LAHORE, Pakistan — A defense lawyer says a Pakistani judge has sentenced a Christian man to death after finding him guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet in the eastern Punjab province.

Riaz Anjum said Saturday the judge announced the verdict a day earlier in the city of Gujrat.

He identified the man as Nadeem James, 35, who was arrested last year after he sent a poem to his Muslim friend on WhatsApp.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death.

Domestic and international human rights groups say these laws are often misused to settle personal scores and target minorities.

In 2015, Muslims beat to death a Christian couple and burned their bodies in a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.