An 83-year-old Ahmadi man has been released from prison after serving more than three years on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan.Abdul Shakoor was released from Faisalabad prison in Punjab province on March 18.He was arrested in December 2015 after being accused of selling an Ahmadi interpretation of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.A month later, on Jan. 2, 2016, he was jailed for five years under blasphemy laws and three years under the Anti-Terrorism Act.“The high court rejected his appeal of acquittal but reduced his sentence,” Ahmadiyya Pakistan spokesman Saleem ud Din said.In February, Johnnie Moore, commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), called
on Pakistan to immediately release Shakoor. His release comes a few days after the U.S. criticized Pakistan
for its treatment of Ahmadis and other religious minorities.In its report
, the U.S. State Department noted Pakistan’s discriminatory laws against Ahmadis, Shias and Christian minorities.“Courts routinely failed to protect the rights of religious minorities. Courts discriminatorily used laws prohibiting blasphemy against Shia, Christians, Ahmadis and members of other religious minority groups,” it said. According to the report, violence against religious minorities — including Christians, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Hindus, and Shia Muslims — remained a serious problem.The U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion, in its report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 5, also denounced Pakistan for its treatment of the Ahmadiyya, who have been subject to systematic persecution by means of state-sanctioned discrimination and other repressive measures.Ahmadiyya
is an Islamic movement founded in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the late 19th century which believes that the Prophet Muhammad was not the last prophet.