Munawar Mohsin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Police in Peshawar arrested Mohsin and four colleagues from The Frontier Post after the newspaper published a letter to the editor titled “Why Muslims Hate Jews,” which included derogatory references to the Prophet Mohammed.

Although the newspaper’s senior management claimed that the letter was inserted into the copy by mistake and apologized for failing to stop its publication, district officials responded to complaints from local religious leaders by closing the paper and ordering the immediate arrest of seven staff members on blasphemy charges. In Pakistan, anyone accused of blasphemy is subject to immediate arrest without due process; those convicted may be sentenced to death.

On July 8, 2003, a court in Northwest Frontier Province convicted Mohsin of blasphemy and sentenced him to life in prison. The court’s ruling said that Mohsin had “intentionally and willfully committed an offense.”

Mohsin is the only journalist from The Frontier Post who remains in prison. (Two of the journalists charged in the case immediately went into hiding and were never arrested. The other four were eventually released on bail.) Mohsin, who was working as the newspaper’s subeditor, admitted responsibility for publishing the letter, which he says he had not read carefully. He told The New York Times that he “could never think of abusing our Holy Prophet” but confessed that, having recently completed a drug rehabilitation program, his mind may have been slightly addled. Mohsin is imprisoned in Peshawar Central Jail.