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31st December
2007
  

Pakistan Impersonating Civilisation...

Ahmadis persecuted for wrong flavour of nonsense

Pakistan flagHardline clerics are using Pakistan's blasphemy laws to persecute members of a small Islamic splinter group they say are not proper Muslims.

The two million-strong Ahmadiyya community, based in Rabwah in the Punjab, risks charges of "impersonating Muslims" under the country's controversial religious laws.

Shameen Ahmad Khalid, a community leader, said: We have people serving long jail sentences for blasphemy or for 'posing as Muslims'.

The laws mandate three years' imprisonment for Ahmadis who dare to call themselves Muslims, call their places of worship mosques, recite the Koran or announce the azan, the call to prayer.

Twenty years ago, the people of Rabwah were charged with impersonating Muslims. Since the charges are still outstanding, the town's 50,000 inhabitants have to hide their Islamic habits, keep their beards trimmed and avoid using Muslim invocations.

Rabwah is surrounded by mosques whose clerics host prominent annual anti-Ahmadi rallies and bellow hateful slogans from their minarets' loudspeakers. In 2005 gunmen burst into an Ahmadi village mosque at prayer time and killed eight people and wounded most of the 30-strong congregation.

The Ahmadis' reverence for a prophet who lived in the 19th century offends the principle orthodox Muslim tenet that the Prophet Mohammed was the final prophet.

An amendment to Pakistan's constitution in 1974 declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims. The anti-Ahmadi laws, which allow Ahmadis to be charged with impersonating Muslims, were promulgated by late dictator Gen Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s.

 

31st January
2008
  

Update: Lynch Mob Mentality...

Muslims murder wrong man for blasphemy

Pakistan flagIslamic extremists have murdered a Pakistan man after mistaking him for his brother who had been accused of blasphemy against Islam.

Simon Emmanuel was the brother of Younis Tasadaq, who was imprisoned in 1998 on charges that he had committed blasphemy against Islam. Due to pressure from human rights organizations, however, Tasadaq was released and fled to the United States in 1999. Last year, he decided to visit his ailing mother, and when certain extremist Muslims found out about his arrival, they decided to kill him. At midnight on January 9, 2008 a group of extremists arrived at the house where Tasadaq was staying and shot his older brother to death, mistaking him for Tasadaq.

The Pakistan police in the area attempted to cover up the shooting by treating it as a suicide case and did not register a case against the killers.

 

28th February
2008
  

Update: Blasphemy Abused...

Personal vendetta leads to life long death threats in Pakistan

Pakistan flagAnwar Masih, a Christian resident of Shahdara near Lahore, was fired from his job in November 2007 and continues to receive death threats from religious fanatics even though the Lahore High Court declared him innocent of blasphemy charges in December 2004.

Masih reportedly asked his formerly Christian neighbor, Chaudhary Naseer, why he had grown a beard (a symbol of Islam) and converted to Islam in August 2003. They exchanged hard words, and some time later Naseer alleged that Masih made insulting remarks against Muhammad and other prophets of Islam. As a result, police arrested Masih and took him to jail in November 2003.

The Lahore High Court acquitted Masih from the blasphemy charges on December 24, 2004. However, Masih still faces discrimination for his Christian faith and receives death threats for simply being charged with insulting the prophet Muhammad. His life is still in danger. Sadly, this is too often the case for anyone accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, regardless of whether they are exonerated of such charges.

Masih said that soon after his release from jail, he took shelter in Lahore with a Christian NGO and went underground due to the fear of being murdered by Muslim fanatics. Masih said that he restarted his career as a technician in a local factory in August 2005. However, he was fired from that job in November 2007 when the factory administration found out about the charges he had faced. He said the factory administration was threatened with deadly consequences by unknown persons for employing a "blasphemer," who demanded that they fire him immediately.

Anwar Masih still lives in hiding and moves from one village to another because he fears for his life.

According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, 892 individuals were charged under the blasphemy laws from 1986 to December 2007.

 

26th December
2008
  

Update: Witch Hunt...

Pakistan lynch mob attempt to burn faith healers

Pakistan flagPakistani police rescued a man claiming to be a spiritual healer from a lynch mob in Orangi after they attempted to set him on fire.

Abdul Jabbar who claims to be a spiritual healer, was supposedly found setting pages from the Holy Quran on fire. His accomplice Naimatullah presumed to be his devotee was also present at the occasion.

Nearby residents saw smoke rising from Jabbar's den and upon inspection, they claimed blasphemy. The residents informed more people and soon a large mob gathered around Jabbar's den. The angry mob started torturing Jabbar and his accomplice and later attempted to burn them alive after someone from the crowd suggested that they should throw both the men in the blazing fire inside the den.

The police found out about the incident and arrived in time to save the two men from being thrown into the fire.

At least three thousand people gathered around the den to kill and burn them, SHO Fasih-uz-Zaman told Daily Times. We reached there on time otherwise they would have been brunt alive, said the police officer.

According to the police officer, Jabbar had set alight the Quranic verses for a spell. On the contrary Jabbar denied allegation saying that he had set fire to garbage which also ended up engulfing the papers with sacred verses on them.

The police found material that Jabbar had been supposedly using for black magic and reciting spells. An incident report was filed on behalf of a resident named Qaiser Ayub against Jabbar and his accomplice Naimatullah.

 

20th January
2009
  

Update: A Minority View...

Pakistan says much abused blasphemy laws will be repealed (again!)

Pakistan flagThe Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, has said that Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws will be abolished.

The minister said he was struggling to ensure religious freedom, human dignity and social justice in Pakistani society: Religious minorities have been neglected, victimized and oppressed in Pakistan. They have faced constitutional and institutionalized discrimination and inequality but our government is committed to address the long-standing issues of minorities. We are making all-out efforts to uplift and empower minorities.

On January 14, a group of Christian lawyers from different parts of Pakistan held a meeting in Islamabad to discuss the issues being faced by religious minorities of Pakistan. The lawyers discussed minorities-related problems at length. The meeting also discussed steps taken by the Pakistan Peoples Party government for the betterment of religious minorities of Pakistan.

Pakistan has promised before but getting blasphemy laws repealed is easier said than done

 

8th February
2009
  

Update: SMS Lynch Mob...

Pakistan rights worker framed for blasphemy over church land dispute

Pakistan flagMore than 100 protestors last week surrounded a Pakistani courthouse and chanted death threats against a Punjabi Christian said to be framed for sending a blasphemous text message on his cell phone.

Rawalpindi police arrested Hector Aleem on Jan. 22 and detained him on charges of sending a text message that insulted Muhammad.

At his Jan. 27 hearing at the Rawalpindi Sessions Court, crowds gathered and began shouting death threats.

His attorney, Malik Tafik, told Compass that a local man allegedly framed Aleem for the charges because Aleem has made legal challenges on behalf of Christians involved in a land dispute. Aleem directs a small agency that often defends the rights of Christians.

Last November, a scholar associated with the national Islamist political movement Sunni Tehreek received a text message claiming to have come from Aleem. The religious scholar registered blasphemy charges against Aleem.

Police raided Aleem's house and authorities charged him with violating sections 295c (blasphemy) and 109bb (abetting) of the Pakistani criminal code. Aleem was transferred to a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court for a second hearing on Jan. 30, where an even larger crowd of 150 protestors gathered shouting that his life would not be spared. Many of those who came to protest were associated with Sunni Tehreek, which has been involved in violent sectarian clashes with other Islamist movements in the last decade.

At a hearing at an anti-terrorism court on Feb. 2, Judge Sakhi Mohammad Kohut exonerated him of blasphemy charges but did not clear him of abetting. A government official told Compass that the judge's decision was heavily influenced by Islamic extremists attending the open court hearing who told the judge, If you release [Aleem], then we will kill him outside.

The next hearing will be held in March. Attorney Tafik told Compass he believes Aleem will be cleared of all charges because there is no evidence against him.

Update: Murderous Lawyers

10th May 2009. See article from compassdirect.org

A Pakistani Christian charged with abetting blasphemy against Islam was denied bail for his own safety last week after a muslim lawyer allegedly threatened his life in a court hearing.

If the judge does not punish Aleem according to the law, then [we] will kill him ourselves, said Tariq Dhamal, an attorney for the unnamed complainant, according to a report by the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement.

Aleem's lawyer, Malik Tafik, said the judge is afraid to rule in favor of Aleem for fear of his life from Rawalpindi muslims : The judge is under pressure and not deciding the case based on merits.

 

20th February
2009
  

Update: Learning About Repression...

Christian nursing students fall victim to accusations of blasphemy

Pakistan flagTwo female Christian students of Fatima Memorial Hospital's nursing school in the Pakistani city of Lahore, have been accused of desecrating verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, days after their Muslim roommates desecrated a picture of Jesus Christ which they had hung in a shared hostel room.

ANS has learnt that some days back the Muslim nursing students took a strong exception to the hanging of Jesus' picture on the wall. Muslim students desecrated the picture by tearing it up and hurling it down after the Christian students refused to remove it voluntarily.

The administration of the Nursing School allegedly took no action against the Muslim students, who committed the alleged profanity.

Christian-Muslim tension among students of the nursing school escalated on Feb. 13 when the Muslim students, who still harboured acrimony against their Christian roommates, inevitably accusing them of desecrating Quranic verses.

 

25th April
2009
  

Update: A Blasphemy Against Humanity...

Blasphemy in Pakistan now carries a mandatory death Sentence

Pakistan flagThe death penalty is now mandatory for blasphemy, under Article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The option of a life term for a person convicted on the charge has been taken away. This has come about purely on the basis of a technicality.

The Supreme Court's Shariat Appellate Bench dismissed an appeal against a 1990 Federal Shariat Court ruling making death compulsory.

The results of this verdict are potentially dire. The fact is that for any person accused of blasphemy, the possibility of obtaining a fair hearing have over the past decade or so become slimmer and slimmer with each passing year. Each time an accusation is made, an environment of hostility is quickly whipped up – often by extremist forces – creating a highly charged atmosphere. Neither the police nor the lower judiciary is able to function independently or without bias, and courts at the district and sessions level repeatedly pass the maximum sentence – if only because judges fear for their lives.

To make the situation still worse is the fact that the blasphemy law has been abused more and more often. All too often they have been accused on the basis of petty disputes – a bid to settle a business dispute; a plot to grab property or simply to seek revenge for some trivial act.

The change in the provisions of Article 295-C are alarming and should serve as another reminder of the need to amend this flawed piece of legislation.

 

2nd June
2009
  

Update: Murderous Clerics...

The usual Pakistani lynch mob fired by accusations of blasphemy

Pakistan flagPakistani Muslims in a town outside of Lahore this month overran a courtroom in hopes of swaying a judge in a blasphemy case against a Christian couple, and a member of the prosecution later threatened to kill the wife.

Some 50 molvis (Muslim clergy) on May 14 burst into the courtroom in Mustafabad, where a bail hearing was taking place in the case against Munir Masih and his wife Ruqiya Bibi, according to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).

The molvis said: No non-Muslim has the right to keep a Quran in his house, they have done this so they are liable to be punished.

Masih and Bibi, both in their 30s, were originally accused under section 295-B of Pakistan's penal code with defiling the Quran by touching it with unwashed hands on Dec. 8 of last year. Masih was taken to prison and remained there until Jan. 22, when a Muslim neighbor who had asked him to store some of his possessions, including his Quran, testified on his behalf and the case was dropped.

The complainant, Mohammad Nawaz, subsequently filed another accusation on Feb. 12, this time under 295-C, blasphemy against Muhammad, Islam's prophet. This charge carries a death sentence, whereas defiling the Quran calls for life imprisonment.

Despite pressure from the crowd of clerics, Judge Shafqat Ali, also a molvi, granted the couple bail. Following the hearing, however, a member of the prosecution team approached Bibi outside the courtroom and threatened to kill her: Whatever the decision, we will kill you.

Charges of blasphemy are common in Pakistan and particularly incendiary, often leading to strong shows of religious zeal. It is not uncommon for sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistani penal code to be invoked in retaliation for personal grievances.

Update: Acquitted

25th May 2012.  See article from tribune.com.pk

The Lahore High Court acquitted a Christian couple of blasphemy charges, overturning the life terms awarded to them by a trial court in Kasur.

Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi accepted the couple's appeal against the conviction as the prosecution failed to prove the allegations against the accused couple.

Complainant Muhammad Nawaz had accused them of disgracing the Holy Quran and insulting the religious character Mohammed. In the FIR, Nawaz accused Ruqayya of using the Holy Quran for exorcism. He accused her of touching the Holy Quran without ablution, and said that her husband was equally responsible for he remained a silent spectator.

During the trial, not a single witness spoke against the couple regarding the allegations of blasphemy; therefore, the trial court on March 2, 2010 acquitted the couple in 295-C PPC but awarded them life imprisonment under section 295-B.

 

7th August
2009
  

Update: Calendar from the Dark Ages...

Factory owner murdered after mob respond to blasphemy accusation

Pakistan flagA factory owner and two others were murdered when factory workers attacked them for allegedly desecrating the holy Quran, reported a private TV channel.

One report said the owner and the other two were killed over the factory administration's failure to pay workers, but another reported said the attack was prompted by an allegation that the factory owner – identified only as Najeebullah – had desecrated the holy Quran.

A worker entered Najeebullah's factory at around 2pm and saw that the owner had taken down an outdated calendar – which had verses from the holy Quran written on it – and put it on a table. The worker claimed that this was desecration of the holy Quran. When a guard tried to stop him, he ran out into the working area and started gathering his colleagues, claiming the owner had committed blasphemy .

When an enraged mob subsequently surrounded Najeebullah, his guard tried to protect him by firing in the air, but the crowd started firing shots at the owner and his guard.

The channel said a large number of workers also attacked the factory administration and beat up several employees. They also blocked the road leading to the factory for three hours and later set the unit on fire.

No intention to change Pakistan's much abused blasphemy laws

Based on article from pakistanchristianpost.com

A Delegation of UK Pakistani Christians was stunned when Wajid Shams-ul-Hassan, Pakistani High Commissioner in UK, openly denied any intention of government of Pakistan to repeal blasphemy law.

The Pakistani High Commissioner in UK condemned attacks on Christians in Pakistan and assured to adopt security measures for Christians in Pakistan.

A Delegation of UK Pakistan Christians called on Pakistani High Commission to express their anger on burning of Christians alive in Pakistan on August 3, 2009. The delegation was led by James Shera former mayor of Rugby along with many other organizations of Christians.

The Christian delegation was of view that blasphemy law is being misused by Islamic extremists creating miseries for Christians and recent wake of violence is also on allegations of blasphemy.

 

14th August
2009
  

Update: Minor Concerns...

Pakistan claims that it will implement legislation to protect minorities

Pakistan flagPakistan's Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti has said the government was in process of drafting a Minorities Protection Bill to safeguarded their rights.

All religious scholars are being taken on-board as their suggestions would be incorporated and later the Bill would be presented in the parliament for approval.

The Minister said the government was fully committed to safeguarding the rights of minorities living in Pakistan and taking concrete steps to provide basic rights to every minority community.

He said to address minorities issues, peace committees are being established at tehsil and district levels that will review blasphemy act or any material used to spread anarchy in the society through negative speeches.

 

27th August
2009
  

Update: The Trumped Up Cases Against Hector Aleem...

Christians are not safe in Pakistan

Pakistan flagHector Aleem was arrested in January 2009 on a blasphemy charge. My father was given bail but now many other cases are being lodged against Hector Aleem by the FIA (federal investigation agency).

On 24 April 2009 inspector Raja Wajid and Ahmed Ali went to the Adiala Jail to meet Hector Aleem. There they threatened him that they will lodge so many cases against Hector that he will not be able to bear these cases.

On 4th May 2009 they lodged cases against him and took him to the Sadiqabad police station, there many members of Sunni tehreek and maulvies were present and they beat Hector together and tortured him they took him to the roof and tried to throw him down, than they made him naked and spat on him and abused him and called him CHOORA (the toilet cleaner). They kept him in the custody for 4 days now they are continuously filing the cases against him and after every 15 or 20 days they file another case on him and take him to the police station and beat him.

FIA is the most corrupt agency of Pakistan; it's their way to trap people. There are many examples of Christian who visits any foreign country and when they come back to Pakistan FIA (Federal Investigation agency) arrest them, beat them and arrest them in the offence of human trafficking. Why not any Muslim is arrested in this case? because now days Pakistan is no more than a hell for Christians, the recent situation and some previous incidents shows that blasphemy is too easy, it's a tool for Muslims to beat and destroy Christian.

FIA is now supporting the Sunni Tehreek; they are doing this together. When Hector was in FIA lock up, the members of Sunni tehreek were continuously saying that give him to us, we will take him to swat and there our brother Talibans will kill him because he has done the blasphemy.

When Hector was arrested in a blasphemy case there was no proof against him and now there isn't any proof against these FIA cases also. They are filing these cases against him because they wanted to show the world that Hector is a criminal. 

Hector's life is under threat, one day they will kill him in the jail. I am telling you that one day this will happen so please it's my request to pressurize the government to release him because there are many examples of blasphemy victims who were killed by the policemen.

So I really want you all to think about his situation. And pray for him and his family and if possible please pressurize the government of Pakistan to release Hector Aleem.

I am working alone and there is no one to help me, please help me and do something in favour of Mr. Hector Aleem.

 

29th August
2009
  

Update: Failed State...

Pakistan's blasphemy law provides legal mechanism for governance by lynch mob

Pakistan flagYet another Christian, was beaten and imprisoned and is facing a possible ‘death penalty' over false blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reported that the Christian teen Safian Masih from Gujranwala city in Punjab province lived in a mixed neighborhood of both Christians and Muslims. On 8 August, the young daughter of one of his Muslim neighbors demanded that Safian bring her items from the grocery store. Safian refused, and she slapped him. Safian slapped her back, and the argument escalated to include both families, it said.

After the altercation, the girl's parents accused Safian of trying to rape their daughter. When other Muslims heard this, they gathered and severely beat him. After beating him, they submitted a report to the police accusing Safian of rape, and had him handed over
to police custody and jail, the report stated.

According to ICC source, two days later, on 10 August, the Muslims changed their story and accused Safian of blasphemy instead of rape. They claimed that the girl was attending a madrassa to learn about the Qur'an, and that when Safian encountered her he took her Qur'an and tore out its pages. After hearing this accusation, some Muslims attacked Safian again and beat him so badly that they forced him to “admit” that he had “blasphemed” the Qur'an. They then handed him over to the police again.

On 14 August, a Muslim mob gathered and demanded that Safian be put to death for blasphemy, the report said. The mob also threatened to kill anyone who helped Safian or his family.

Washington D.C-based ICC, a Christian advocacy for persecuted Christians around the world has strongly condemned the blasphemy charge and imprisonment of the young Pakistani Christian.

ICC's Jonathan Racho said: In Pakistan, Christians live as second-class citizens and repeatedly face violence from the Muslims majority. Muslims easily exacerbate small disagreements and call for the execution or even murder of Christians. While ICC does not condone Safian's slapping of a Muslim girl, it is unconscionable for Muslims to call for his death.

 

12th September
2009
  

Update: Barbarism in Somalia...

More hand amputations in the name of subjugation

Somalia flagSomali Islamists publicly chopped off the right hands of two men in Mogadishu, a sign the hardline Shebab militia is imposing Sharia law in areas of the capital under its control.

The Sharia court found the two men guilty of breaking into houses and stealing property. They admitted to the charges against them, said Sheikh Abdibasit Mohamed, an Islamic court judge in the north of Mogadishu: Therefore each one of them gets his right hand amputated according to the Islamic Sharia.

The two men in their late 20s screamed loudly as the punishment was administered by knife, and were taken to hospital for treatment. A teenager was also publicly punished, receiving 100 lashes over allegations that he raped a young girl.

 

18th September
2009
  

Updated: Key Tactics...

Another muslim lynch mob attacks christian village

Church burningA Muslim mob turned violent in Pakistan burning homes, setting one Church on fire and tortured Christians of Jhethe Key village while police opened fire on Christian protesters.

As news of attack on Christians spread in Sialkot city, hundreds of Christian youth gathered on a road which leads to village Jhethe Key. The Christians were demanding lift siege of village by the administration and allow them to visit their friends and relatives whose fate was unclear.

The Muslim radicals attacked Christians after a teenage girl of village accused a Christian boy to push her in street which supposedly caused her Quran to fall down a drain.

The Muslim cleric and lynch mob leader in village Jhethe Key announced at local mosque to gather and attack Christians who were accused of desecrating the Quran.

According to PCP sources, a Muslim mob torched homes and a Church. The Christians of village were also beaten and firearms were used by Muslim rioters.

The recent attack on Christians in village of Sialkot was preplanned by Muslim extremists and was the fourth such attack in two months. How many homes are burnt and how many Christians are injured by Muslims village Jhethe Key is unknown as a PCP correspondent was denied entry to village and Muslim owned electronic media are not covering the incident.

Update: Blasphemy Victim Murdered in Jail

16th September 2009. Based on article from christianpost.com

Robert Danish, a Pakistani Christian youth jailed for allegedly desecrating Quran was found dead inside prison on Saturday morning.

We believe he was killed by Muslim police officials, one of the relatives of the Christian youth was quoted as saying by Pakistan Christian Post. What has surprised Christians and the family of Robert is that he was killed in a special security zone of Sialkot Central Jail on Saturday.

The prison authorities are claiming that Danish killed himself.

Robert Danish, also known as Falish Masih was arrested by police on 11 September after Mohammad Asghar Ali, resident of village Jhethey Key lodged a complaint against him. Mohammad Asghar Ali, the village barber accused Robert Danish of pushing his daughter Hina Ali on the way, letting her drop the Quran in side-drain, thus desecrating the holy book of Muslim. It happened when Hina, who is also rumoured to have an affair Robert was coming home after Quran recitation.

Earlier, the Muslims of the village also accused Robert Danish of having an affair with Hina and threatening to kill him if he will not leave her, that may have prompted the girl's father to implicate him, the report said.

Update: Violence at Funeral

18th September 2009. Thanks to Alan
Based on article from christianpost.com .
See also article from asianews.it

Violence broke out in certain parts of Pakistan even as Christians buried Robert Masih who was mysteriously found dead at his jail cell a day earlier in Sialkot, in the eastern province of Punjab.

Sources said hundreds of people attended Masih's funeral. Dozens of young mourners began pelting stones at police, who resorted to lathi-charge and fired tear gas into the crowd in Sialkot.

Reacting to the public outcry, the Punjab government Wednesday suspended jail superintendent and his deputy over Masih's death, according to Press Trust of India.

Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) has given Pakistani official an ultimatum earlier this month to repeal the law by 25 September . Pakistani government last week said it is reviewing the blasphemy law, but gives no time-frame, causing more frustration for Christians.

PCC has demanded a full inquiry to the mysterious death of the Christian youth and the justice be brought to the family of the victims.

The inspector general of prisons for Punjab Province, Kokab Nadeem Warriach, declined to say whether he believed that Fanish's death was allowed or perpetrated by police guards. He said in a telephone interview to the New York Times that three prison officials had been suspended, and that the investigation ordered by the provincial government would conclude this week.

 

20th September
2009
  

Update: Dream On...

As if Pakistan will ever repeal its much abused blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagPunjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has suggested repealing of the blasphemy law to protect the minorities.

The blasphemy law should be repealed to protect the religious minorities, particularly in the wake of increasing incidents of Christians' persecution by religious extremists, he said this while replying to reporters' queries.

...BUT...

Based on article from dailytimes.com.pk

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said his party would protest if any changes were made to the country's blasphemy laws, a private TV channel reported.

He said defending the blasphemy laws was the duty of every Muslim. According to the channel, Shujaat pledged that his party would resist any attempt to annul the law, adding that appropriate solution should instead be reached to prevent the abuse of blasphemy laws.

 

23rd September
2009
  

Update: Dream On...

Safety and respect for Christians in Pakistan

Pakistan flagThe Rt Rev Michael Jackson, Chair of the Network for Inter Faith Concerns of the Anglican Communion, and Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chair of the Christian Muslim Forum initiated the online petitionSafety and respect for Christians in Pakistan on behalf of the Anglican Communion.

The petition states: The attacks on Christians, and on occasions also on Muslims, facilitated as they are by the law on blasphemy, are very damaging to the reputation of Pakistan and indeed to the reputation of Muslims which we wish to see restored.

It has been signed by over 2,000 people, among them Christians and Muslims, from 20 countries around the world including Pakistan. Twenty bishops have also added their names in support of the petition.

Sign the petition

Pakistan's leaders have been hinting at changes to this lynch mob fuelling monstrosity of a law ever since it was enacted. But there is no way that the religious leaders will ever let it go. It is so integral to subjugation of the people of Pakistan that it will stay on the books for as long as islam is the dominant religion.

Update: Death Threats

13th September 2009:  See article from catholicculture.org

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic who serves as minorities minister for the Pakistani government, has disclosed that he has been "receiving death threats and phone calls from extremists for a long time" because of his efforts to protect the rights of the country's Christian minority. Bhatti has been a leader in the campaign to reform Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which are frequently used as the pretext for assaults on Christians. He was also highly visible in condemning the mob violence against Christians in Gojra in August.

Update: Death by Committee

13th September 2009:  See article from dailytimes.com.pk

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Minorities called for an overall review of the blasphemy law on Saturday and formed a sub-committee to submit recommendations on the matter. The new committee will be headed by Pakistan People's Party member Nafisa Shah and will submit recommendations on the matter.

Update: Presidential Support

23rd September 2009:  Based on article from asianews.it

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said that his government would ensure that the blasphemy law is not misused by anyone. He made the statement after a series of very serious episodes of religious intolerance and persecution and after a number of prominent political leaders asked for changes to the law.

Zardari discussed the issue in London, where he met Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and acknowledged that extremists were misusing the law.

The law punishes any offense against religion and anyone trying to convert others. Muslim extremists, often with the complicity of police and local authorities, have used it to persecute and jail non-Muslims, especially Christians, and moderate Muslims.

A wind of change appears to blowing across the country and even a sizable section of the press has come out against the law. In an editorial article, the Daily Times wrote on 17 September that Christians killed in the name of Islam never get justice. The only way an accused can be saved is to bundle him out of the country after releasing him on bail.

Another editorial that appeared on 18 September in the Dawn said that the Punjab government needs to take urgent steps to protect minorities in the province for the situation there is deteriorating. The centre, meanwhile, should start working towards the repeal of the blasphemy laws. For too long they have been used to settle personal scores, grab land and to kill. These draconian laws must be struck off the books.

 

10th October
2009
  

Update: Aiding Tolerance...

US Congressmen look to tie aid to Pakistan to improved religious tolerance

US SenateU.S. lawmakers want Pakistan to do more to fight religious intolerance, saying the issue should play a bigger role in U.S. assistance to and engagement with Pakistan in coming years. Witnesses at a congressional hearing testified that Pakistan's blasphemy laws encourage extremism.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which carry a potential death penalty for derogatory remarks or actions against Islam, the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad, have long been controversial within and outside the country.

Congressmen are supporting a non-binding resolution introduced in the House of Representatives by Christopher Smith, who says radicalism poses a threat to Islam: In the intermediate and long-term, certainly these radical Islamic jihadists and others are the greatest threat to Islam and to believers such as yourselves..

The resolution says U.S. non-military assistance, which will triple over the next five years, must support an interfaith dialogue begun by Pakistan's Minister of Minorities Affairs Shabaz Bhatti, and help the government counter religiously-motivated hostility and violence.

It also urges Pakistan to repeal the anti-blasphemy laws, and investigate acts and punish perpetrators of religiously-motivated violence.

The blasphemy law, and to be persecuting people because of their faith, we want a great relationship with Pakistan, but I think this is just unacceptable, said Republican Representative Frank Wolf, who is among lawmakers supporting Smith's resolution.

Representatives Smith and Wolf are urging President Barack Obama's Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, to elevate the importance of the religious tolerance issue where U.S-Pakistan relations are concerned.

 

13th October
2009
  

Update: Blasphemy Abuse to Continue...

Repealing Pakistan's blasphemy law seen as submitting to US control

Pakistan flagThe Karachi'ites have vowed that they will sacrifice their lives but will not accept any amendment to the blasphemy law, let alone its repeal.

They warned the rulers not to take any step to amend or repeal the law, otherwise countrywide protest will be started. This was stated by the leaders of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and religious scholars in a Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat rally .

Thousands of Karachiites were participated in the rally to condemn the conspiracy to amend or repeal the blasphemy law. Addressing the massive rally, JUP President Dr Abul Khair said that they had suffered all kinds of hardships but they had asked the rulers that they would not tolerate any amendment or repealing of the blasphemy law.

The JUP chief said that Kerry-Lugar Bill was the conspiracy against the Pakistan Armed Forces, nuclear programme and the sovereignty of the country.

Shah Anas Noorani said that through the Bill, US wanted to control the internal affairs of the country. The US want to amend the blasphemy law and control the nuclear programme of Pakistan. He termed that this is an evil bill and asked the government to stop their policies of appeasing the US and other foreign countries.

 

16th October
2009
  

Update: Blasphemy Debate Postponed...

No suggestions to amend murderously abusive blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagThe meeting, which was held to discuss and recommend amendments to the blasphemy laws - ended without coming up with any suggestions and was postponed till January 2010.

In the two-day long meeting that was organised by the federal ministry for religious affairs in Islamabad, 33 members of national assembly, members of provincial assemblies belonging to religious minorities from all four provinces and about 25 senators and representatives of different religions participated.

We have discussed all aspects of the 295B and 295C of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that refer to blasphemy laws and during the meeting, almost every participant agreed that these sections were misused against religious minorities, and therefore we are discussing these laws and bringing a draft to change them,said Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti.

We have asked assembly members to discuss the issue with the leadership of their parties and then a draft would be prepared, so that when it would be brought in the national assembly, it has the support of all political parties, therefore we have postponed the meeting till January 2010,he said.

The blasphemy laws are one of the most inflexible pieces of legislation. Several people belonging to religious minorities have been killed or sent to jail under the allegations of committing a blasphemous act. The minorities have suffered severely in the Punjab and Sindh, where Christians and Hindus are respectively the biggest religious minorities.

Not a single person has so far been proven to have committed a blasphemous act, and no one can even imagine saying a single word that may dishonour the holy book of any religion, said Bhatti, adding that usually these sections are used for personal enmity.We want to change the misuse of these sections of law for which we have decided to contact the religious scholars of Islam, civil society and people from different fields of life so that harmony between different religions could be promoted,he said.

 

3rd November
2009
  

Update: Blasphemy Law Reforms Lynched...

Pakistan's religious parties get organised to retain much abused blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagReligious parties have warned the government that they will not accept any move to repeal or amend the blasphemy law.

The Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan and the Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Haqooq Ahl-e-Sunnat organised religious conventions on Saturday to condemn suggestions by the government to amend the act.

They said the government must not amend the law if it wants to remain in power . They said those who believed in Islam would come out onto the streets if a single change was made.

 

15th November
2009
  

Update: UNEquality...

Pakistan's repression of minorities taken up at the UN

UN logoThe campaign to raise awareness about Pakistan's blasphemy laws, launched by Christian activists in association with AsiaNews, has moved to Geneva, Switzerland, for the opening of the second UN Forum on Minority Issues.

The delegation representing the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistani Catholic Church will take part in two days of meetings with representatives of governments, UN agencies, national human rights organisations and non-governmental organisations. The theme of the forum is Minorities and Effective Political Participation .

This political battle is conducted at the same time as that against blasphemy laws, which impose life in prison or death on anyone who desecrates or defiles the Qur'an or the name of the Prophet Muhammad, a legal tool used by Muslim extremists to strike at minorities and further Islamise the country.

The recommendations made by Christian activists include the repeal of constitutional and legal discrimination, including the blasphemy laws, which bar members of minorities from holding certain public offices such as the presidency, the post of prime minister, that of provincial governor, etc.

 

26th January
2010
  

Update: An Insult to Humanity...

Christian man sentenced to life in Pakistan for supposed blasphemy

Pakistan flagA young Christian man was behind bars after being sentenced to life imprisonment for having supposedly insulted and desecrated the Koran.

A court in the town of Faisalabad sentenced Imran Masih, under controversial blasphemy legislation which has been criticizedby international rights groups.

Judge, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, handed down the sentence under Article 295-Bof the Pakistan Penal Code because the 26 year old allegedly burnt verses from the Koran and a book in Arabic on purpose , to stir up religious hatred and offend the feelings of Muslims, trial observers said.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church,suggested that his organization would appeal against the verdict, saying it was important to battle to save his life.

Christians said Masih, a shopkeeper by profession, was brutally tortured by a group of Muslims in July last year before being detained by police on what they described as fabricated charges that he had burned pages of the Koran.

 

8th February
2010
  

Update: False Claims...

Pakistan minister claims 2010 revision of abused blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagThe Pakistan government plans to revise its laws against blasphemy within this year, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has said.

Bhatti said he has been in talks with political parties to have the blasphemy law revised by the end of 2010.

Bhatti said the revision would require judges to investigate cases before they are registered – which would keep check on police, who are often accused of abuse. The revised laws would also mete out punishments to anyone who makes a false complaint, he said.

 

15th February
2010
  

Update: A Lost Cause...

Religious leaders speak out about reforming Pakistan's abused blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagLeaders and representatives of over 30 religious parties of the country reiterated the universal stance of Muslim world that blasphemy of any kind was warrants capital punishment. The leaders stressed that neither rulers nor legislature or any court had the power to amend blasphemy law.

The leaders regretted that pro-west ruling elite of Pakistan had been from time to time trying to amend blasphemy laws. They warned the government that a movement would be launched in case rulers tried to carry out such unholy designs. They warned rulers against unholy wishes and asked them to rein in Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and some ministers who had been issuing irresponsible statements creating unrest.

The group also warned rulers against giving lukewarm response to the deliberate and blatant blasphemies committed by the European press in the name of freedom of expression.

 

17th February
2010
  

Update: Mob Rule...

Yet Another lynching in Pakistan

Pakistan flagAs the residents of a village near Kasur have demonstrated — with fatal consequences — there is little that is as explosive as anger ignited by religious passions.

In yet another incident of a frenzied mob out to punish alleged blasphemy, a young man was beaten to death after his father reportedly claimed that he was the last prophet of Islam. The alleged blasphemer — an illiterate brick-kiln worker-turned-faith healer — is in police custody and other members of his family are in hiding. Their lives may still be in danger as reports from the area suggest that public anger has not subsided.

The incident is part of an established pattern. Propelled and led by religious leaders, an angry mob takes the law into its own hands to punish alleged blasphemers. The authorities almost always fail to defuse the situation.

In its attempts to Islamise society over the years, especially during the Zia era, the state has come to a point where it is not able to rein in the obscurantist forces of its own creation. It has lost its authority to challenge the semi-literate maulvis who do more harm than good.

Few things have fed such forces more than the blasphemy laws. Since the mid-1980s when these laws were introduced, blasphemy cases have grown exponentially. Many alleged blasphemers have died, mostly at the hands of mobs, much before their case was heard or decided. These laws have been used as weapons for personal, political, social and economic victimisation.

Efforts must be made towards the repeal of the blasphemy laws if the state is serious about dousing religious anger before it is consumed by it.

 

21st February
2010
  

Update: Blasphemy Abuse...

Life imprisonment for Pakistani christian falsely accused of blasphemy

Pakistan flagInternational Christian Concern (ICC) is calling for Pakistani officials to release a Christian man who is serving life imprisonment in Pakistan following false allegations of blasphemy.

A Pakistani court sentenced Imran Masih to life imprisonment and fined him 100,000 Pakistani Rupees [$1182] on January 11, after his Muslim neighbor, Hajji Liaquat, accused him of burning the Qur'an.

On July 1, 2009, Masih was cleaning his shop when he came across Arabic literature. Before trashing it, he asked his Muslim neighbor, Liaquat, whether the book was Islamic literature. Liaquat assured him that it was not an Islamic book. However, after Masih burned the book, Liaquat showed the half-burned book to passersby and accused Masih of desecrating the Qur'an. Later, the local mosques incited Muslims to attack Masih by announcing that he had desecrated the Qur'an.

Masih ran for his life and hid at his house before the police arrived and arrested him. At the time of arrest, a mob of 400 Muslims had gathered outside Masih's home. The mob was able to overpower the police and attack him.

According to the family, Liaquat falsely accused Masih of desecrating the Qur'an because he wanted to rent the shop that Masih rented to run his business.

 

3rd March
2010
  

Update: Blasphemy Abuse...

Another life imprisonment for a Pakistani christian accused of blasphemy

Pakistan flagAnother christian has been sentence to life imprisonment for supposed blasphemy in Pakistan.

Qamar David was sentenced to life imprisonment by in Karachi under blasphemy laws; Sections 298, 295-A and 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), while a co-accused, Munwar Ahmed, a Muslim, was acquitted.

David was arrested in 2006 for allegedly sending blasphemous messages from his mobile phone.

Kamran Khan, a Christian leader from Karachi, said that acquittal of the co-accused on grounds of benefit of doubt rise to doubts about the impartiality of the trial.

A group of Christians organized a protest rally outside Karachi Press Club on Feb. 28 against the court's verdict. The protest rally was organized by the Save the Churches' Property Welfare Association and the United Church of Christ.

According to the verdict, a SIM card was found in possession of the convict and the data produced by the cellular company established that messages were sent from the seized SIM. Police registered a case against David on the complaint of Khurshid Ahmed Khan, a Muslim.

Qamar David will appeal against the court's verdict, according to his lawyer.

 

8th March
2010
  

Update: Failed State...

The most basic tenets of civilised life nixed by Pakistan's blasphemy law

Pakistan flagA 'court' in Punjab, have convicted a Christian couple, Munir Masih and Ruqqiya Bibi, to 25 years in prison.

According to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Judge Ajmal Hussein convicted the couple for touching the Koran without washing their hands.

Munir Masih and Ruqqiya Bibi were released on bail last January, but were re-arrested after the judge ruled against them.

The incident, which dates back to December 2008, unleashed the fury of Muslim extremists who put pressure on police. Unconfirmed reports suggest that extremists paid off police agents to discover new evidence to justify the sentence.

At the end of the police investigation, husband and wife were charged with blasphemy. The blasphemy law is the harshest tool for religious repression available in Pakistan. It was adopted in 1986 by then dictator Zia ul-Haq to protect Islam and Muhammad, from attacks and insults.

CLAAS announced that it was filing an appeal with the High Court in Lahore to have the 25-year sentence against Munir Masih and Ruqqiya Bibi overturned

 

29th March
2010
  

Update: Pakistan's Shame...

Pakistan tries to hide persecutions under trumped up blasphemy charges

Pakistan flagPolice in Alipur have arrested a Christian woman on a baseless accusation of blaspheming the Mohammed and tried to keep rights groups from discovering the detention, a Christian leader said. Related

Alipur police in Punjab Province denied that they had detained Rubina Bibi when Khalid Gill, Lahore regional coordinator of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) inquired about her detention after a Muslim woman accused her of blasphemy, Gill told Compass.

The Muslim woman's name was kept secret by the police and Muslim people, and we were not allowed to see the Christian woman, Gill said. The Alipur police said they had not arrested her yet, contrary to the fact that they had arrested and tortured her at Alipur police station.

A reliable police source told Compass on condition of anonymity that a First Information Report identified Rubina Bibi of Alipur, wife of Amjad Masih, as accused of making a derogatory remark about Muhammad. The charge comes under Section 295-C of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which have gained international notoriety for their misuse by Muslims to settle personal grudges.

Police told Compass that the FIR was now sealed and no further information would be released to any person or news outlet.

APMA's Gill said the case registered against Rubina Bibi was without basis, growing out of a quarrel with her Muslim accuser over a minor domestic dispute. Condemning the arrest, Gill said a radical Muslim relative of the accuser, Sabir Munir Qadri, had turned the quarrel into a religious issue in which the Christian could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment with a large fine.

Update: Acquitted

16th August 2010. See article from christianpost.com

A Pakistani court exonerated a Christian woman of blasphemy charges after authorities had pressured her into making a false confession, according to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).

Rubina Bibi arrived in Lahore yesterday after Additional and Session Judge Mohammad Asghar Khan in Wazirabad district set her free in Gujranwala, Punjab, said CLAAS National Director Joseph Francis.

Rubina Bibi had purchased some edible fats from a Muslim woman, Seema Bibi, but asked for a refund when she found they were impure. Seema Bibi began threatening her and speaking derogatorily of Christ, Christians and Christianity, Chaudhary said. In her false confession on April 6, Rubina Bibi said under duress that she was not used to hearing such contempt about herself and her faith and responded by insulting Muhammad.

Her statement of confession was under pressure, and we obtained her new statement in the presence of lawyers in which she said that she did no such thing, Francis said.

After hearing evidence in two previous hearings, the judge ordered the investigating officer to appear in court yesterday. Bashir of CLAAS, which took up Rubina Bibi's case on March 30, offered an extended argument from previous case law, and Khan acquitted her, Francis said.

 

23rd May
2010
  

Update: Murder with Impunity...

EU censures Pakistan over abused blasphemy laws

EU flagThe EU parliament has called on Pakistan to guarantee minority rights, claiming that its blasphemy laws could be used to murder members of political, racial and religious minorities.

In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, the assembled Euro MPs expressed deep concern at the Pakistani blasphemy laws, calling for a thoroughgoing review of the legislation which is open to misuse.

The laws can carry the death sentence and are often used to justify censorship, criminalisation, persecution and, in certain cases, the murder of members of political, racial and religious minorities, the parliament said in a strongly-worded statement.

The texts in question are misused by extremist groups and those wishing to settle personal scores, the EU deputies said.

They had also led to an increase of violence against members of religious minorities, particularly Ahmadis, but also Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Shiites, Buddhists, Parsis, Bahais and critical citizens who dare to raise their voice against injustice, they added.

 

28th July
2010
  

Updated: Failed Justice...

Brothers on bollox blasphemy charge murdered outside Pakistan court

Pakistan flagIn an incident which highlights the total collapse of security and the rule of law in Pakistan, two Christian brothers, who were accused of distributing blasphemous pamphlets, were shot dead outside a court in Faisalabad.

According to reports, two unidentified gunmen shot dead Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajjad, and also left their police escort critically wounded, as they were leaving the court after a hearing .

Both brothers were rushed to hospital where they were pronounced dead, The Daily Times quoted a local official, as saying.

Both Emmanuel and Rashid were arrested earlier this month along with some others on charges of igniting religious hatred by distributing sacrilegious pamphlets.

A senior church official in Faisalabad, James Aftab, said that the men had been implicated in a fake case.

Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti blamed the local mosques in Faislabad for the attack on the two brothers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has taken serious note of the incident and directed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take all steps to ensure the safety of minorities in Faislabad and maintain law and order in the city.

Update: Minorities Minister Accused of Blasphemy

28th July 2010. Based on article from continentalnews.net

Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, a Pakistani Muslim cleric, has claimed that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities has himself committed blasphemy by branding the recently murdered Christian brothers as victims of Pakistan blasphemy laws.

Bhatti had spoken out about the murder of Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajid, by unidentified masked gunmen inside a courthouse in Faisalabad. The brothers had been accused of supposedly blaspheming Muhammad, a charge they had both denied

According to Hammadi's statement, published in Daily Jasarat, a Pakistani Urdu daily newspaper, the Muslim cleric said that Muslims cannot tolerate blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad: It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer. Muslims won't tolerate even a slightest blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. If Shahbaz Bhatti committed blasphemy he would be beheaded.

Update: Sentenced

2nd May 2011. See article from tribune.com.pk

An Anti-Terrorism Court found Maqsood Ahmad guilty of killing two blasphemy accused in 2010 and sentenced him to death on four counts.

Ahmed was brought to the court amid tight security. A large crowd, including many Sunni Tehrik activits, had gathered in front of the court. Many of the activists expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict.

ST's Mahmood Ahmed said they would soon file an appeal against the verdict at the appropriate forum. He said the man had killed two blasphemers and deserved better treatment.

 

3rd October
2010
  

Update: Legal Lynch Mob...

Death sentence confirmed in Pakistan for supposed blasphemous remarks

lahore high courtThe Lahore High Court has confirmed the death sentence handed down to a blasphemy convict and ordered that he be hanged till death.

This is the second case of its kind in the country.

A District Court Judge in Lahore Lahore in 2002 had awarded Wajihul Hassan the death sentence for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks against Muhammad. He was also accused of hurting religious sentiments of the complainant – Senior Advocate Muhammad Ismail Qureshi.

Town Police registered a FIR (case report) against Hassan under sections 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of Muhammad, 295-A (malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 298-A (use of derogatory remarks in respect of holy personages).

According to the complainant – Advocate Muhammad Ismail Qureshi – who had got Ahmadis declared non-Muslims by the Supreme Court, some unknown persons had been wiring him frequent letters carrying supposedly blasphemous remarks.

In the FIR he alleged that although the letters did not contain names of the senders, he was sure that Wajihul Hassan was behind these letters. He alleged that Wajihul Hassan was a Muslim but later converted to Christianity and was using derogatory remarks against Muhammad. The complainant could not produce any of these letters before the police and mentioned in the FIR that he had burnt all the six letters.

During the course of investigation, however, he handed over seven such letters to the authorities attributing them to accused Hassan. During the trial, the complainant produced 10 prosecution witnesses to buttress his case against the accused. The witnesses said they had seen Hassan uttering blasphemous remarks.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairman told The Express Tribune that the commission was against the capital punishment at first place, adding that blasphemy laws have long been misused in Pakistan. He said, Blasphemy laws have always been controversial. People have been using them to penalise their opponents and minorities. HRCP and other organisations have long been demanding that the blasphemy law should be repealed.

 

22nd November
2010
  

Update: Pakistan's Lynch Mob Justice...

Man bailed on blasphemy charge is murdered by gunmen

Pakistan flagA man accused of blasphemy was shot and killed near his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore shortly after being granted bail by a cour.

Imran Latif was accused of burning pages of the Quran and had spent five months in jail.

He was released on bail on November 3 after the man who filed the complaint of blasphemy told the court he was not sure that Latif was guilty.

Inspector Rafique Ahmed, who is investigating the murder, said Latif's killing was likely linked to the blasphemy case. No Muslim tolerates a man who commits blasphemous acts, he said.

Rights activists have condemned the incident as another instance of the havoc caused by blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws are being so widely exploited here. It seems that the life of a person ends when (he is) accused of committing blasphemy, said Mehdi Hasan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

 

29th November
2010
  

Update: Brave Legislator...

Private member bill submitted to limit abuse of Pakistan's blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagThe former minister for information and Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Sherry Rehman has submitted a private member bill in the National Assembly Secretariat seeking amendments to the country's contentious blasphemy laws.

Rehman proposes that the death sentence  be reduced to a 10-year imprisonment and recommends that the life imprisonment be substituted with a five-year imprisonment sentence.

The move which is likely to incur the wrath of the country's religious circles has been under discussion for a long time but up till now, no legislator dared to formally submit any such law due to the matter's sensitive nature.

Though it is a private member bill and is likely to get across party lines support from the liberal legislators, the religious parties and some right wing parties will be strongly opposed to it.

Rehman has also proposed that a new section should be added which states that anyone making false or frivolous accusation shall be punished in accordance with similar punishments prescribed in the section under which the false or frivolous accusation was made.

Another section has been proposed under which any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for an imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine or both.

The proposed legislation also calls for amendment to try all blasphemy cases in the High Court.

Blasphemy Abuse Victim Freed

Based on article from pakistanchristianpost.com

A court in Pakistan has freed a Christian man who was wrongly jailed for 25 years for blasphemy after he allegedly defiled the Koran, the Muslim holy book, by touching it with unwashed hands.

Munir Masih, had consistently denied the allegations against him, arguing that they were false and made maliciously by a Muslim neighbour whose child had been involved in a quarrel with his 10-year-old son.

He has been freed on bail but his wife, Ruqqiya Bibbi,who was also given a 25-year sentence for the offence, is still in jail awaiting the outcome of her application for bail.

They are both appealing against sentence and conviction after Muhammad Nawaz, the man who accused them, admitted they were innocent and indicated that was willing to submit an affidavit to confirm this.

 

30th November
2010
  

Updated: Failed Justice...

Pakistani christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy over accusations resulting from a personal argument

Pakistan flagA Pakistani court has sentenced a Christian, Asia Bibi to death for blasphemy charges thereby becoming the first woman to receive such a capital punishment.

Release International, a UK based Christian organization added that a sessions court judge gave Asia the maximum sentence at the end of a trial that lasted for more than 16 months.

The report said that Asia, a farm laborer in her late-30s from Ittanwali, Punjab, was also fined more than £700 – the equivalent of two-and-a-half years' salary for the average worker.

Release partners at Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), who have been supporting Asia and her family throughout their ordeal, say that they and the family are shocked by this outcome, it stated.

It noted that no one sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has ever been executed – but Asia could now spend years in appalling conditions on death row. If she appeals to the High Court, it may take years before her case is heard.

According to the report, police first filed a case against Asia in June 2009 after local Muslims accused her of making derogatory comments against Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

She had reportedly been discussing matters of faith with fellow laborers in the fields when Asia and her daughters were attacked by local villagers and Muslim clerics. She had reportedly been under pressure from her fellow workers to convert to Islam, the report added.

Release International said they're concerned that Asia's conviction could set a dangerous precedent. Martha Bibi is currently on trial for blasphemy in Lahore and she was charged in 2007, after a dispute with builders who allegedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

There is a petition calling for justice for Christians in Pakistan at www.releaseinternational.org/current

Update: Appeal

15th November 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

Relatives of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad say they will appeal against her conviction.

Asia Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, who is a field labourer, said: We have never ever insulted the Prophet Muhammad or Islamic scripture, and we will contest the charges in the higher courts.

He said his wife was accused of blasphemy after getting into an argument last year with a group of women when she was sent by the wife of a village chief to fetch water. Masih said the other women challenged his wife and said it was sacrilegious to drink water collected by a non-Muslim: My wife took offence, saying, 'Are we not humans?' This led to an altercation.

Human rights activists want the blasphemy law repealed as they say it is often exploited by Islamist extremists or those harbouring personal grudges.

Update: President Intervenes

20th November 2010. Based on article from hindustantimes.com

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has stayed the execution of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. The woman, Aasia Bibi, was given the death sentence by a judge on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 300,000 on her.

A religious leader of the local mosque, Qari Saleem, had lodged a case against Aasia Bibi for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against the last prophet of Muslims.

Zardari on Friday directed Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities, to submit a report within three days.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP), an NGO working for minority rights in Pakistan, said the proceedings of the case took place under intense pressure and the verdict was likely to be overturned in the high court.

The case has drawn huge attention in the local media and there is deep sympathy for Aasia Bibi.

Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities .

Update: The Heat is On

22nd November 2010. Based on article from google.com

Pope BenedictThe family of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam said Saturday they are hoping for a presidential pardon that could bring her home in time for Christmas.

The case against Asia Bibi — which started with a spat over a sip of water — has renewed calls for reform of Pakistan's blasphemy law, which critics say have been used to settle grudges, persecute minorities and fan religious extremism.

Bibi has been in prison for the last 1 1/2 years and on Nov. 8 became the first woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy.

President Asif Ali Zardari has asked for a report on the case and could issue a pardon even before a court issues its decision on an appeal against the verdict, said Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minister for minority affairs.

The minister said accusations have increased in recent years along with the rise of Muslim extremism that has also fueled the Taliban and other insurgent groups seeking to impose Islamic rule based on a strict interpretation of the holy book, the Quran. This law is a tool in the hands of the extremists, Bhatti said.

The blasphemy law is unlikely to be repealed because the government's ruling party relies on the support of Islamist groupings. But Bhatti said the government was working to amend the law. Among the possible reforms, he said, are including punishments for anyone making false accusations and taking the initial investigation out of the hands of local police and instead entrusting them to district officials. Anyone with a grudge can accuse anyone of blasphemy, he said.

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer told reporters Saturday he is also going to appeal for Bibi's release: I am going to take this petition to the president, and the president will forgive her

Pope Benedict XVI has also called for her release.

Update: President warned off a pardon with threats of violent protests

24th November 2010. Based on article from tribune.com.pk

In an unprecedented move, top clerics joined to warn President Asif Ali Zardari against granting a discretionary pardon to a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, saying that the decision may trigger adverse reaction.

I advise him (Zardari) not to take a hasty decision under foreign pressure, Qari Hanif Jallundari, who represents the Deobandi school of thought, told The Express Tribune by phone from Lahore. Such a decision will lead to untoward repercussions, he added.

Hanif's Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia (WMA) is an umbrella organisation which leads more than 12,000 seminaries across Pakistan, mostly in Punjab, where many people accused of blasphemy have usually lost lives at the hands of religious zealots. An organisation which wields control over Barelvi seminaries has also joined the Deobandis in a bid to change the president's decision which, they think, he has already taken.

Sahibzada Fazl Karim, a representative of Barelvi seminaries, said his organisation would stage demonstrations across the country if someone involved in a crime like blasphemy is granted pardon . It would be too much if the woman is set free. Death is the only punishment for a person who commits blasphemy.

Update: Protests

25th November 2010. Based on article from christianpost.com

muslim protestA group of hard-line Muslims, including many students from Islamic schools, protested Wednesday in the city of Lahore against a possible presidential pardon for a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. Related

About 250 people participated in the demonstration, organized by the Movement for Protection of the Prophet's Honor, to oppose the pardon and the effort to change the country's controversial blasphemy law, which has been widely condemned by the international community and human rights groups.

We are ready to sacrifice our life for the Prophet Muhammad, protesters chanted, according to The Associated Press.

Update: Taliban join the threats

28th November 2010. Based on article from centralasiaonline.com

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the deputy chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan warned the government of serious consequences if it grants amnesty to the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, BBC Urdu reported.

Faqir Muhammad said the Taliban would resist any move to pardon Asia Bibi. He said Pakistan was an ideological state and said that a pardon because of foreign pressure was not acceptable.

Update: Presidential pardon ruled out by the high court

30th November 2010. Based on article from christiantoday.com

The Pakistani government has been barred by the country's high court from pardoning a Christian woman sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

A lawyer argued that a pardon would be illegal while the case was pending in the courts.

Since the matter is in the high court, the government cannot now make any move to pardon Bibi, lawyer Allah Bakhsh Leghari told Agence France-Presse.

Bibi's attorney filed an appeal and signed a petition pleading for a presidential pardon.

 

1st December
2010
  

Update: Failed Humanity...

Pakistani blasphemy victim stoned by prison lynch mob

Pakistan flagMuslim inmates at a prison in northwest Punjab Province on Oct. 29 stoned a Christian wrongly convicted of blasphemy nearly to death, according to his father.

Imran Masih, a 19-year-old member of the Protestant Church of Pakistan, is still recovering in District Hospital Hazro, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care after the assault.

Imran Masih was brought to the hospital in a very serious condition, Dr. Sultan Malik told Compass. He had lost a lot of blood. He was shifted to the ICU and is still under treatment.

Masih was working at a barbershop in July 2009 when the owner, Nadeem Haider, accused him of stealing 5,000 rupees (US$60). Haider, who had been pressuring Masih to convert to Islam, had the Christian arrested, according to investigators.

'Justice' Risalat Khawaja sentenced Masih to 10 years of prison under Pakistan's blasphemy statues, widely condemned internationally for their use against oppressed minorities to settle grudges.

Zubair Malik, investigation officer on the prison inquiry commission looking into the assault on Masih, said that on Oct. 29 Masih was sitting outside his barrack after Friday prayers when a group of inmates pounced on him, yelling that he was a blasphemer and must be killed. With rocks from fields within the prison premises, they tried to stone him to death as prison guards looked on, Malik said, stopping the assault only after Masih was nearly dead.

 

4th December
2010
  

Update: Religious Incitement to Violence...

Pakistani cleric offers reward for the murder of the blasphemy law victim

mohabat khan mosqueA Pakistani Muslim cleric has offered a reward for anyone who kills the Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam.

Maulana Yousef Qureshi, the imam of a major mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, offered a $5,800 (3,700 pounds) reward and warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law.

We will strongly resist any attempt to repeal laws which provide protection to the sanctity of Holy Prophet Mohammad, Qureshi told a rally. Anyone who kills Asia will be given 500,000 rupees in reward from Masjid Mohabat Khan, he said referring to his mosque.

Qureshi, cleric who has been leading congregation at the 17th century Mohabat Khan mosque for decades, later told Reuters he was determined to see her killed. We expect her to be hanged and if she is not hanged then we will ask mujahideen and Taliban to kill her.

Qureshi is not believed to have a wide following.

 

5th December
2010
  

Update: Punjab Assembly 'Debates' Blasphemy Law...

Biased Punjab assembly provides stage for threats against supporters of blasphemy victim

 punjab assemblyThe speaker of Pakistan's Punjab legislative assembly barred a lawmaker from a minority community from speaking on the issue of a Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, prompting other minority legislators to walk out of the House.

Joel Amir Sahutra raised a point of order in the assembly, saying that he wanted to speak about the case of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five who was sentenced to death after being convicted under the discredited and much abused blasphemy law.

Speaker Rana Iqbal Ahmed refused to allow Sahutra to speak on the issue, describing it as sensitive .

Protesting against the speaker's attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House.

However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker predictably did not stop him.

Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi: The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia's pardon, he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman's release are blasphemers .

The minority legislators later ended their boycott of the proceedings after submitting a resolution to the assembly secretariat in which they demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate all cases registered under the blasphemy law. The resolution also demanded the framing of a new law to stop misuse of the blasphemy laws.

 

7th December
2010
  

Update: Religion Rises Above Law...

Court considers whether Pakistan's parliament has the right make laws

Pakistan flagA Pakistani court has temporarily blocked government-proposed amendments to relax blasphemy laws, amid renewed protests from rights activists and religious minorities.

Islamabad has been trying pass a bill to ease the country's much abused blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty for derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed or Koran.

Judge Khwaja Mohammad Sharif on Monday ordered the bill to be frozen while the court assessed whether parliament has legislative authority over blasphemy laws.

Aziz Baig, a member of the public, had submitted a citizen's petition arguing that lawmakers did not have the constitutional right to amend laws relating to religion.

 

17th December
2010
  

Update: In the Name of Injustice...

Doctor in blasphemy shite after disposing of business card from man named Mohammed

busiss cardsShock and protest reign in the Pakistani civil society. Naushad Valyani, a Muslim doctor in Hyderabad (Sindh province) was arrested for blasphemy in the last few days. The physician is alleged to have snatched and thrown in the trash business cards from a sales representative, named Mohammad, who proposed the purchase of certain drugs.

This fact is totally illogical. It is a perfect example of how the blasphemy law is exploited for personal vendettas, Rev. Robert McCulloch, a missionary of St. Columba in Hyderabad and administrator of St. Elizabeth Hospital said..

The case was raised by Mohammad Faizan, representative of a well-known multinational pharmaceutical company, against the doctor who belongs to the Ismaili Muslim community. When Faizan realized that the doctor was not going to give him attention, and that he threw his card away on which is written the name of the Prophet Mohammad, he accused him of blasphemy. His suit is supported by other representatives of pharmaceutical companies that have staged a protest calling for the indictment of the doctor for blasphemy.

Some police officers registered the complaint and arrested him.

Civil society is shocked by the level reached in the abuse of the blasphemy law: 99% of Muslim citizens are named Mohammad. So then we commit the crime of blasphemy every time a newspaper page or any written text that contains the name is destroyed? Human rights activists, when asked for comment, said This is simply absurd. If this goes ahead, the nation will collapse into a sectarian disaster. This episode should make us reflect and may help the Government to propose a major change in the law, they said.

Several organizations working for human rights demand the immediate release of the doctor, asking the drug companies not to exploit the incident, not to use blasphemy as a form of pressure on doctors and to drop the charges.

 

19th December
2010
  

Offsite: We Hypocritical Muslims...

On dangerous greeting cards
christ christmas card

  A card to keep for life...
OR ELSE...

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims' religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses' name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim's visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

...Read the full article

 

20th December
2010
  

Update: Protests Every Which Way...

Support and opposition for the abomination of Pakistan's blasphemy laws

protest graphic24th

A number of political and religious parties and groups have announced that a campaign to protect the blasphemy law would be launched and gave a call for countrywide protest demonstrations on Dec 24 and a shutter-down strike on Dec 31. They also resolved to hold a public meeting in Karachi on Jan 9.

The decision was announced by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who said that all religious parties were united on the issue. He vowed to resist any move by the government to make changes in the existing blasphemy law.

The issue came to the light when PPP's MNA Sherry Rehman submitted a private member bill to the National Assembly Secretariat last month, seeking some changes in the blasphemy law with an aim to avoid the misuse of the law.

The JUI-F chief, who presided over the conference, said all the mosques in the country would organise protest demonstrations on Dec 24 after Friday prayers.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman made an appeal to traders' organisations and associations of small and big markets to extend their support to the movement and make the shutter-down strike a success. He said that their protest would be so forceful that no one would dare to think about changing the blasphemy law.

25th

The Pakistani Christian leaders in All Christian Parties Conference held here today in Lahore, decided to march from Lahore Press Club to Punjab Assembly Building on December 25th, 2010, to press upon government to repeal blasphemy law.

 

25th December
2010
  

Update: Law of the Lynch Mob...

Protests in Pakistan to support the much abused blasphemy laws

protest graphicThousands rallied in Karachi and other cities Friday to warn government officials any effort to repeal Pakistan's blasphemy laws would have serious consequences.

Several Pakistani lawmakers proposed changing the law after last month's bollox conviction of a Christian for blasphemy against Islam, the latest in a long line of cases abusing the law by those with a score to settle.

Asia Bibi is the first woman condemned to die under Pakistan's blasphemy law merely on the say so of an aggrieved local woman.

Protest leaders are calling for a nationwide strike if the government tries to heed calls from the West to change the blasphemy law.

 

29th December
2010
  

Update: Picket Mob...

Pakistan strike in support of blasphemy and lynch mob justice

Pakistan flagPakistan's religious parties have announced a complete shutter-down strike across Pakistan on December 31, 2010.

Jamaat-i-Islami's deputy chief, Professor Abdul Ghafoor Ahmed, said that the strike will be held to protest against the conspiracies of present rulers to repeal the blasphemy law. Ghafoor said that he regretted that anti-Islam elements and their local agents were out to repeal the blasphemy laws in Pakistan to achieve their malicious goals against Muslims. He said that the blasphemy laws had been drafted by clerics from all schools of thought and passed by the National Assembly unanimously.

The JI deputy chief further called on the trader's community and transporters to take active part in the strike.

In addition to the strike, the religious political parties will hold a mass congregation in Nishtar Park in Karachi on January 9, 2011.

 

30th December
2010
  

Update: Lynch Mob Justice to Continue...

Pakistan's government inevitably backs down from amending abused blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagPakistan's government in the National Assembly has just categorically denied any move to amend or repeal the blasphemy laws.

The government considers that its prime responsibility is to protect this law and it will never support any private members' bill even from the treasury benches in this regard, said Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah in a policy statement made on the floor of the National Assembly.

The categorical announcement of the government came at a time when the religious parties have given a deadline of December 31 to the government to come up with a clear stance on the blasphemy law.

Syed Khursheed Shah, who recently took over the charge of the Ministry of Religious Affairs said the government will never allow anybody to violate this law. However, he assured the minorities that the government would also prevent exploitation of this law.

 

1st January
2011
  

Update: Karachi Lynched...

Karachi brought to a stand still by strike in support of blasphemy law

karachiThe busy life of Karachi took a pause on Friday when thousands of supporters and activists of various religious parties and groups marched and shouted a warning to the government – don't change the blasphemy law or face more protests, including a civil disobedience movement .

All trader organisations backed the strike and kept their businesses shut. All shopping centres of the city also closed. The Sunni Ittehad Council staged a massive rally led by Sahibzada Fazal Karim.

The rally adopted several resolutions demanding:

  • that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani give a policy statement in the parliament or address the nation to satisfy the citizens of the country over the issue.
  • the removal of Salman Taseer as the governor of Punjab for trying to get the blasphemy law amended.
  • the private bill presented to a committee of the National Assembly by PPP MNA Sherry Rehman should be withdrawn or the parliamentary committee should reject it.
  • that Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, who is also the head of a committee formed to review the proposed changes in the law, should either voluntarily resign or be replaced.

Tehreek-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR) gave the government a nine-day ultimatum to clear its stance, otherwise people would lay a siege to the Parliament House. The ultimatum was given by TNR chief Sahibzada Abul Khair at a joint press conference addressed by about 35 religious and political leaders.

The leaders said the strike conveyed a message to the government and the entire western world that any change in the blasphemy law would be resisted and people would take to the streets in protest.

 

5th January
2011
  

Update: Murder in Support of Lynch Mob Justice...

Punjab governor who supported amendments to the abused blasphemy law murdered by own bodyguard

salman taseerThe governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer, 47, was shot dead on 4th January by one of his own guards, elite security force protector, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, when Tasser was leaving his car, near a shopping centre Kohsar Market in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

The killer has taken into custody by the police on the spot and police also arrested 6 more people in this connection. Around 4 pm, the assassin fired 9 bullets on Taseer's stomach, chest, neck and face. Although Taseer was taken to Polyclinic Hospital Islamabad, he died on the spot, police sources say.

Qadri said in his initial statement that he killed the governor because of his views on Islamic blasphemy laws and visiting Aasia Noreen, a Christian women alleged blasphemer, in jail and declaring her innocent.

Governor Taseer visited Aasia on Nov. 20, 2010 in jail where he signed a clemency petition from her which he later presented to the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. He was very vocal on blasphemy laws and called them as black laws.

The Islamic religious groups condemned Taseer and demanded for his immediate removal. In addition, a fundamentalist Islamic party issued apostasy decree against Governor Taseer but the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rejected this decree and condemned the move against the governor.

 

6th January
2011
  

Update: Blasphemy Blood Lust...

Group is planning attack on prison holding Aasia Bibi

sheikhpura prisonA group of islamic militants is planning to launch a suicide attack at the prison where Christian blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi is being held, according to an intelligence report issued last week.

Aasia Bibi is being kept in the Sheikhupura district Jail, where the Punjab police and jail authorities have beefed up security following this report and the murder of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

The terrorist group calls itself Moaviya group .

500 Clerics warn that showing grief for the murdered governor is also considered to be blasphemy

See article from tvnz.co.nz

Five hundred Pakistani clerics have warned that anyone who expresses grief over the assassination of a senior ruling party official who opposed the country's blasphemy law could suffer the same fate.

The Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat is one of the largest groups representing scholars from the Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims. They have been leading protests in favour of the blasphemy law.

More than 500 scholars of the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat have advised Muslims not to offer the funeral prayers of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer nor try to lead the prayers, the group said in a statement.

Also, there should be no no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the Prophet are themselves indulging in blasphemy.

The group of scholars also noted the courage and religious zeal of Taseer's killer, saying his action has made Muslims around the world proud.

It also said that the so-called intellectuals, ministers, politicians and television anchors who oppose the blasphemy law and support those committing blasphemy should learn a lesson from Taseer's death.

Offsite: A divided Pakistan buries Salmaan Taseer and a liberal dream

See article from guardian.co.uk

Liberals have long been a minority force in Pakistan, reviled for importing western ideas and culture; now they are virtually an endangered species.

As Taseer was laid to rest in Lahore, his assassin, 26-year-old policeman Mumtaz Qadri, was also being showered with rose petals, in Islamabad. Cheering supporters clapped Qadri as he was bundled into court. Death is acceptable for Muhammad's slave, they chanted.

...Read the full article

Update: More support for a lynch mob society

8th January 2011. See article from dailytimes.com.pk

Arrangements are in full swing for a big Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat march to be held in Karachi on Sunday against any attempts to repeal the blasphemy law.

Leaders of religious and political parties stressed that the masses should participate in the rally, adding that defending Muhammad is not only the responsibility of the political and religious parties, but every Muslim is bound in this regard.

Meanwhile, All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Cottages Industries founder has announced full support to the march . ppi

 

10th January
2011
  

Update: Mass Injustice...

Hundreds of thousands march to ensure no changes to Pakistan's lynch mob friendly blasphemy law

karachi rally video A conglomerate of religious parties on Sunday organised a mammoth rally in Karachi and demanded that the government immediately withdraw the private bill seeking amendments in blasphemy law.

The party leaders announced a public meeting and Long March on 30th January in Lahore, if the government would not accept their demands.

Hundreds of thousands of people belonging to all islamic religious schools of thoughts attended the rally and warned the government to desist from becoming a repealing blasphemy laws. They vowed that they would not tolerate any conspiracy to amend the blasphemy law and were ready to sacrifice their lives for the sanctity of Mohammad.

The participants of the rally carryied the portraits of Malik Mumtaz Qadri, assassin of Salman Taseer, flags of Jamaat-e-Islami, JUI-F, outlawed Jamaatud Dawa and were chanting the slogans of Death to Blasphemer and Down with USA .

The participants also urged the government to immediately free Taseer's murderer Malik Mumtaz Qadri from detention.

 

12th January
2011
  

Offsite: Good People Speaking Out...

My father's murder must not silence the voices of reason in Pakistan

salman taseerThere is a real danger that extremists could triumph if good people do not continue to speak out

I can't help but roll my eyes when I'm informed I must keep a guard with me at all times now. After my father, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated by his own security guard on 4 January – my brother Shehryar's 25th birthday – does it even matter? If the governor of Pakistan's largest province can be shot dead by a policeman assigned to protect him in broad daylight in a market in the federal capital, Islamabad, is anyone really safe?

...Read the full article

 

13th January
2011
  

Update: What Pakistan is Marching for...

Blasphemy life sentences for tearing down a meeting poster

karachi rally video A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Muslim prayer leader and his son to life in jail for blasphemy. The pair were found guilty in Punjab province of tearing down a poster of a gathering to mark the birthday of Muhammad.

It followed an incident in the small town of Noor Shah Talai in April 2010, defence lawyer Arif Gurmani told the BBC.

He said the convicted pair, Mohammad Shafi, Mohammad Aslam, had been running a grocery shop in a small market. Shafi is also a prayer leader at a nearby mosque.

The complainant, Phool Khan, alleged that the pair had ripped down and trampled a poster of a gathering to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. It had been posted on a pillar outside the grocery shop.

The lawyer said they would launch an appeal against the sentence at Lahore High Court, as he claimed the allegations had been motivated by sectarian differences. He said his clients followed the Deobandi school, while the complainant was from the Barelvi sect - both are Sunni Muslim branches of Islam.

 

15th January
2011
  

Updated: Pope Brushed off...

Papal influence pails against Pakistan's political lynch mobs

Pope BenedictPope Benedict XVI's call for Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy laws has been rejected by Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who once again reiterated his government's stance that there would be no amendments to the blasphemy law.

While the pope was speaking in an annual address to diplomats he urged Pakistan to repeal contentious blasphemy laws as he called on governments worldwide to do more to enable Christians to practice their faith without violence, intolerance or restriction.

The Pope's cpmment was criticized by Islamic organisations in Pakistan. They term it interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. The Pontiff's statement is a bid to plunge the entire world into a deadly war, Liaquat Baloch, the General Secretary of Jamait-e-Islamic (JI) claimed.

Update: Protests will continue until the pope apologises

15th January 2011. See article from thenews.com.pk

karachi rally video Despite Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani's categorical rejection of a demand by Pope Benedict of repealing blasphemy laws, religious parties and groups continued their protest campaign and have efused to stop until the Pope unconditionally apologises.

Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) staged a demonstration outside Lahore Press Club led by Pir Ajmal Gilani and others who warned that Pope Benedict had challenged the very pillars of Islam and his outrageous act could endanger the security of Christians living in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Ajmal Gilani said the Pope had in fact exposed the hands pulling strings of the organized campaign against the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. He said it also explained why Pope did not utter any single word of condemnation against the organized blasphemy by the European press through the desecration of the Quran and sketches of Mohammed

Update: UK joins the call for Pakistan to amend unjust blasphemy laws

I bet the protesters don't issue a threat to keep protesting until Theresa May apologises

15th January 2011. See article from thenews.com.pk

Theresa MayBritish Home Secretary Theresa May has said Britain will continue to lobby the Pakistani government for making amendments in the country's blasphemy laws to prevent more innocent people falling on its wrong side.

In a wide ranging interview with The News/Geo TV, the home secretary said she had met the assassinated Punjab governor on a number of occasions and found him to be a moderate and liberal-minded person, who still had a great contribution to make for Pakistan's progress and she was appalled at his murder after the governor campaigned for the release of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who is alleged to have committed blasphemy, which she sternly denies.

I was very pleased to meet Salmaan Taseer in October in Lahore and we had a good discussion. His murder should make us all think very carefully on these issues. From our point of view, we have been on a number of occasions - and continue to lobby the government to amend the blasphemy laws so that they cannot be abused, she said, adding that the proposals made within Pakistan are the sort of amendments required. The final decision is for the people of Pakistan to make but there is a need for the government to amend the laws so that they are not abused.

 

16th January
2011
  

Update: Checking Abuse...

Pride of lions assembled to check for persecution via Pakistan's blasphemy law

lions and christiansA 10-member committee having two Ulema from each muslim sect has been formed to monitor the cases of blasphemy law. The committee has been tasked with checking abuses of the law.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held at the National Crisis Management Cell, which was chaired by Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad and participated by Interior Minister Rehman Malik as well as Ulema belonging to different sects.

Rehman Malik categorically denied that any committee, headed by Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was ever formed to review the blasphemy law. He also said that Sherry Rehman's private bill was not admitted in the Assembly.

 

19th January
2011
  

Offsite: Impunity...

Murderer of Punjab governor expected to avoid conviction

Pakistan flagThe brother of a Pakistani police guard who assassinated a liberal politician for opposing the country's anti-blasphemy laws is optimistic he will never be prosecuted -- and he probably has good reason to be.

After the police guard, Mumtaz Qadri, pumped 27 bullets into Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on January 4, he was viewed as a hero by many Pakistanis, highlighting how deeply religious extremism has penetrated mainstream Pakistani society.

...Read the full article .

 

24th January
2011
  

Update: Forlorn Hope...

European Parliament calls for an end to Pakistan's blasphemy abuse

EU flagThe European parliament has urged Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon and release Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam.

The European parliamentarians also called on the Pakistani government once again for a sweeping revision of blasphemy laws and their application.

The resolution also refers to the January 4 assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by a police commando after calling for reform of the blasphemy law used to sentence Bibi to death. His outspoken liberal stance offended the country's increasingly powerful conservative religious base.

The parliament paid homage to Taseer for his courage and force of character.

It decried the fact that tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Karachi to defend his killing and expressed great concern for the groundswell of support in favour of religious intolerance.

 

1st February
2011
  

Update: Passing the Blasphemy Test...

Student in trouble over exam answers

Pakistan flagA blasphemy case has been lodged against a boy for allegedly writing supposedly derogatory remarks about Muhammad.

According to police, Muhammad Samiullah, a student of Intermediate, was arrested on the complaint of the chief controller intermediate board, for writing derogatory remarks in his answer sheets.

Police said that Samiullah violated the blasphemy law of the country as he had written unacceptable remarks about Muhammad in his three papers, Urdu, Islamiat and Physics.

 

8th February
2011
  

Update: Staying Alive...

Pakistan blasphemy amendments unsurprisingly withdrawn

Pakistan flagA member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Sherry Rehman has withdrawn a bill tabled in the national assembly, proposing amendments in the blasphemy law, a media report said. Samaa TV reported that Rehman withdrew the bill on the directions of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Gilani had announced that there will be no amendment in the blasphemy law and that he would soon invite religious parties to discuss the issue to dispel apprehensions in this regard.

Speaking to Samaa TV, Rehman said she was bound to follow the party line. When the Prime Minister publicly announced that the current regime does not intend to bring about any change in the blasphemy law, I had to withdraw the bill, she said.

Update: Sherry Rehman just about avoids being done for blasphemy

21st February 2011. See article from dnaindia.com

Police in Pakistan's central Punjab province refused to register a case under the controversial blasphemy law against former minister Sherry Rehman, saying the matter does not fall within their jurisdiction.

The additional and sessions judge of Multan district, Mehr Nasir Hussain, had last week directed local police chief Dilawar Abbas to examine the legal status of an application seeking the registration of a blasphemy case against Rehman.

The application was filed by a man named Fahim Akhtar Gul, who contended that Rehman had committed blasphemy by speaking against the blasphemy law in a television talk show.

The application was subsequently sent to the legal wing of police who dropped the case as being out of their jurisdiction.

Rehman has been facing death threats from extremists since she called for reforms in the controversial blasphemy law to remove the mandatory death sentence.

Update: Dragging On

5th February 2013. See article from tribune.com.pk

The blasphemy issue is still haunting Pakistan's ambassador to United States Sherry Rehman.

A two-judge court bench approved a petition, requesting a case to be registered against Rehman for allegedly committing blasphemy.

The petitioner, Faheem Akhtar Gull, submitted a constitutional petition accusing Rehman of committing blasphemy on Dunya TV's program Dunya Meray Aagay two years ago, and sought the court's ruling to register a case against her.

The petitioner also alleged that the Multan police refused to lodge a case against Sherry Rehman. After hearing the petition, the bench in a careful manner, directed Multan's police chief to deal with this matter as per the law.

 

23rd February
2011
  

Update: Same Old Injustice...

Another christian woman accused of blasphemy in Pakistan

Pakistan flagAs the world waits for news about Asia Bibi, the young Pakistani Christian woman who has been condemned to death after being convicted of blasphemy, another Christian woman has been arrested on similar charges.

Agnes Nuggo was denounced for supposed blasphemy after she became embroiled in a property dispute with Muslim neighbors in the Punjab province. Accused of making statements that insulted the Mohammed, she insists that she is innocent.

The case is typical: a Christian is accused by unfriendly neighbors; the charge is entirely dependent on the testimony of those neighbors. Despite the obvious weakness of the legal case, courts are under heavy pressure from Islamic militants to convict the accused. Christian women face additional risks because Islamic societies favor the testimony of male witnesses.

 

3rd March
2011
  

Update: More Blood Spilt in the Name of Blasphemy...

Pakistan's Minister for the Minorities assassinated over criticism of blasphemy laws

shahbaz bhattiThe killing of a Pakistani minister opposed to an blasphemy law is unlikely to prompt reform in a country under international pressure but hemmed in by conservative Muslim opinion, analysts say.

Gunmen shot minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, in broad daylight after he came out of his mother's home in Islamabad.

Bhatti's murder is the bitter fruit of appeasement of extremist and militant groups both prior to and after the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer on January 4, Human Rights Watch said in a statement: An urgent and meaningful policy shift on the appeasement of extremists that is supported by the military, the judiciary and the political class needs to replace the political cowardice and institutional myopia that encourages such continued appeasement despite its unrelenting bloody consequences .

In advocating reform of the law, Bhatti was only doing his job and reiterating the stated position of the ruling Pakistan Peoples' Party until it reneged on the same on December 30, 2010, Human Rights Watch said.

Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy and can ill afford to offend its international donors, but finds itself risking igniting fury among a disaffected public which is quick to take to the streets to voice its dissatisfaction.

 

9th March
2011
  

Update: Mob Rule...

Pakistani man sentenced to death for supposed blasphemy

Pakistan flag

Additional Sessions Judge has imposed the death sentence on a man who was arrested on the charge of blasphemy from Pind Dadan Khan three months ago.

According to the prosecution, Malik Ashraf had repeatedly uttered derogatory remarks against revered personalities.

Rallies were taken out, demanding death for the culprit.

In addition to death, the court also imposed a total fine of Rs110,000 on him.

 

22nd March
2011
  

Update: Suspicious Jail Death...

Suspected murder of framed blasphemy victim

Pakistan flagA Christian serving a life sentence in Karachi Central Jail on accusations that he had sent text messages blaspheming the prophet of Islam died amid suspicions that he was murdered.

Qamar David's life had been threatened since he and a Muslim, Munawar Ahmad, were accused of sending derogatory text messages about Muhammad in June 2006.

David was convicted under Section 295-C under Pakistan's widely abused blasphemy laws for derogatory remarks against Muhammad.

On Feb. 25, 2010 he received a sentence of life in prison, which in Pakistan is 25 years, and was fined 100,000 rupees (US$1,170).

Pervaiz Chaudhry, who said he was David's counsel until Islamic threats against his life forced him to stop in July 2010, told Compass that the Christian had expressed fears for his life several times during the trial: David did not die of a heart attack as the jail officials are claiming. He was being threatened ever since the trial began, and he had also submitted a written application with the jail authorities for provision of security, but no step was taken in this regard.

David's former attorney said that the trial in which David was convicted and sentenced was a sham.

The judge acquitted Ahmad in this case, even though all 11 witnesses clearly pointed out his direct involvement in the incident, Chaudhry said. During the cross-examining of witnesses, he said, Senior Superintendent of Police Muhammad Afzal had also admitted that Ahmad was the real culprit and that David was arrested on the information of some sources. Chaudhry said there was no relation whatsoever between Ahmad and his client before the trial started.

They were complete strangers, Chaudhry said. David was definitely framed in these cases.

 

27th April
2011
  

Update: Pakistan Martyr...

Bishops write to the pope to ask that the assassinated Shahbaz Bhatti be honoured as a martyr to christianity
Shahbaz BhattiThe Bishop's Conference of Pakistan have written to the Pope to recognize the martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti and include his name among the martyrs of the faith.

On March 2, 2011, Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, was killed by some unknown assassins in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. He had received numerous death threats from religious fanatics in recent months. Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the cabinet, was allegedly killed by militants because he had been campaigning to bring changes in the controversial Blasphemy Law to minimize its misuse against innocent people, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis and Muslims of all sects.

 

2nd May
2011
  

Update: Mob Law...

Mob attack on christian village re supposed blasphemy

Pakistan flagAt least 20 people, including police officials, were wounded as 500 Muslim demonstrators attacked the Christian community in Gujranwala city on April 29, Minorities Concern of Pakistan has learnt.

The attackers, who accused certain members of the Christian community of committing blasphemy, entered a Christian missionary school and broke the furniture there and also attempted to attack a church in Gulzar Colony.

Police broke up the mob of people armed with sticks tried to attack a local Church. Bruce Bhatti, a Christian social worker, told Minorities Concern of Pakistan that situation is very tense in the city and Christians are very scared.

Police arrested 25 people (3 Christians including a priest) for their involvement in the disturbances. Moreover, police are now patrolling the area. However, most members of the Christian community had reportedly locked their residences and fled the area. Around 2,500 Christians live in the area. Police initially registered a case against two Christians and arrested them.

Muslims are accusing three Christians, Rev. Eric Issac, Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq Gill, for blasphemy. Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq Gill both were detained on April 15, 2011 allegedly desecrating the Koran.

 

22nd June
2011
  

Offsite: Blasphemy Blood Lust in Pakistan...

Mob of thousands called out after child's refusal to be bullied leads to an accusation of blasphemy
 
 

Pakistan flagAt least 10 Christian families in a village in Pakistan's Punjab Province have fled their homes after a throng of area Muslims accused a Christian of blaspheming Islam on June 10.

Yousaf Masih of village No. 68 AR Farmwala told Compass that his brother Yaqub's grandson, 8-year-old Ihtesham (also known as Sunny), had gone out to fetch ice when Muslim boys from a nearby religious school started harassing him.

The Muslim boys asked Sunny to recite the Kalma Tayyaba, Islam's foremost proclamation of Muhammad as prophet, and become a Muslim, and only then would he be allowed to go home, Masih said. Sunny refused to repeat the Arabic verse, which infuriated the Muslim boys, and they started beating him up.

...Read the full article

 

28th June
2011
  

Update: Short Justice...

Pakistan death penalty for supposed blasphemy via text message
Pakistan flagA Pakistan judge in Talagang has sentenced a man to death for supposedly committing blasphemy.

Judge Rana Zahoor Ahmad also imposed a fine of Rs50,000 on Abdul Sattar, a resident of Larkana.

Mohammad Saeed, of Talagang town, had filed a complaint with the city police station on Feb 5 last year. He said he had been receiving derogatory text messages and calls from a wrong number for several days. He told police that contents of the messages and conversation of the caller blasphemed the Quran, Mohammed and Sahabas (companions of Mohammed).

 

29th June
2011
  

Offsite: Fighting the Good Fight...

Daughter of assassinated minorities minister continues his good work against Pakistan's much abused blasphemy law
 
 

Pakistan flagThe daughter of the slain governor of Punjab refuses to be cowed by radicals and is taking up the cause that killed her father: opposing Pakistan's much abused blasphemy law.

I think I have an important story to tell: my father was assassinated in Pakistan six months ago because of his opposition to the misuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law, Shehrbano Taseer told AFP here.

Salman Taseer was shot dead on January 4 outside an Islamabad coffee shop by a bodyguard, who was angry over his criticism of a blasphemy law that provides for the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

I'm here to tell my story, to tell what happens and why it happens, to inform the public and maybe prevent new cases in the future, Shehrbano said in an interview at a Manhattan hotel. Like her father, Shehrbano uses the social networking site Twitter and public appearances to speak out boldly against the law, and she vows not to back down despite threats to her life from fanatics.

 

11th July
2011
  

Update: New Laws Unveiled...

New South Wales passes law to identify anyone hiding from justice behind a burkha

Australia: New South Wales flagPolice in Australia's New South Wales state have been given more powers to remove burkas and other face coverings to identify crime suspects.

Anyone who refuses to show their face could now be jailed for up to a year or face a heavy fine.

Islamic groups in the state said they were comfortable with the new measure.

I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burka, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear, Premier Barry O'Farrell said: I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification.

Anyone in New South Wales who refuses to remove their face covering could now be fined A$5,500 (£3,672, $5,882) or put in prison for a year.

The changes come after the high-profile case of Carnita Matthews, who last year was sentenced to six months in prison for falsely accusing a policeman of trying to forcibly remove her burka during a random breath test. But she won on appeal after a judge ruled that the prosecution could not prove she had made the false complaint because officers were not able to see her face.

 

16th August
2011
  

Petition: A Call for Mercy...

Help save Asia Bibi

asia bibi Asia Bibi, a wife and mother, used these words to defend her faith against mocking co-workers who tried to make her convert to Islam. She was later convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians have signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi. Now you can join with The Voice of the Martyrs and our Pakistani brothers and sisters in a call for mercy. We hope to gather 1 million signatures on behalf of our sister Asia, who now sits in prison awaiting the Lahore High Court's ruling on her appeal.

Invite your friends to visit www.CallForMercy.com and add their names to the petition as well. VOM will deliver the petition, along with the list of signers, to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC.

...Sign the petition at callformercy.com

 

2nd September
2011
  

Update: Continuing Nastiness...

Son of murdered Pakistan politician kidnapped

shahbaz taseerThe son, Shahbaz Taseer, aged in his 20s, of slain Pakistani governor Salmaan Taseer, who was murdered by his police guard earlier this year, has been kidnapped on Aug. 26, 2011 by unidentified gunmen in Lahore, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Salmaan Taseer was known for liberal views and publicly opposed the nation's controversial blasphemy law amid a growing divide in Pakistan society over what role religion should play in government. The law allows a maximum punishment of death for anyone found guilty of a blasphemous act toward Islam.

Liberal Pakistanis, many of them wealthy urbanites, say the law has been used to cower minority religious communities. But Pakistan's more conservative citizens cheered Taseer's assassination and hailed the security personnel who killed him as a hero.

The Taseer family has since received threats by radicals, family friends and police say.

According to the UCA News of Aug. 30, although no terrorist group has claimed responsibility, Church workers fear it is an attempt to influence the trial of a bodyguard who allegedly killed the governor for vocally opposing the blasphemy laws.

Meanwhile religious parties continue to support the alleged assassin of the late governor. He is a hero, we want more like these , said Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, head of political affairs at Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a religious group linked to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

 

30th September
2011
  

Update: Having Trouble Spelling 'Civilised'...

Nasty blasphemy accusations in Pakistan over a schoolgirl spelling mistake

Pakistan flagA teenage Pakistani Christian girl who misspelt a word while answering a question on a poem written in praise of Mohammed was accused of blasphemy and expelled from school.

Faryal Bhatti, an eighth grade student at Sir Syed Girls' High School near Abbottabad, misspelt the word in an Urdu examination. She misspelt the word naat (hymn) as laanat (curse). This was an easy error for a child to make as the written versions of the words are similar, the Express Tribune daily reported.

The error led to accusations of blasphemy against Bhatti and uproar among local religious leaders.

According to the school's administration and religious leaders who took exception to the student's mistake, the error was serious enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy.

Bhatti's Urdu teacher Fareeda Bibi noticed the error while collecting answer sheets from her students. She reportedly summoned Bhatti, scolded her and beat her.

When Bhatti's classmates learnt of the alleged blasphemy, the teacher brought the matter to the notice of the principal, who in turn informed the school's management.

The news also spread through the Pakistan Ordnance Factories colony. The next day, male students of the school and some religious leaders organised a rally and demanded the registration of a criminal case against Bhatti and her expulsion from the area.

 

8th October
2011
  

Updated: Dangerous Sentence...

Murderer of Pakistan's minister for minorities sentenced to death

mumtaz qadriMumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was sentenced to death on two counts for murder and terrorism.

Judge Syed Pervaiz Ali Shah, of the anti-terrorism court, announced the verdict after an in camera trial in Adiyala jail. He also imposed a fine of Rs 200,000 on the convict, who would have to undergo one-year imprisonment in case of failure to submit the fine.

The judge overruled a plea by Mumtaz Qadri that he had assassinated the governor because of his blasphemous statements. The judge said the accused had already confessed to his crime and the law did not entertain his defence arguments for killing the governor.

Police were deployed at the jail gate to prevent any break-in. After Qadri was sentenced, the judge wisely left through the back door. The verdict came in spite of a relentless campaign by hardline religious groups which invoked Islam to glorify the murder.

The conviction enraged supporters of Mumtaz Qadri. They burnt tyres on important roads in Rawalpindi and Lahore, smashed window panes of public and private vehicles, tore up portraits of government figures and vandalised the monument of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto at Pindi's Liaquat Bagh. Police and law enforcement personnel did not try to control the enraged protesters.

Update: Judge Targetted

5th October 2011. See article from google.com
See also Pakistan debates use and abuse of its Islamic blasphemy law from speroforum.com

The judge who sentenced to death the killer of liberal Pakistani politician Salman Taseer widely elected not to show up at work after his courtroom was ransacked, lawyers said.

Dozens of furious muslim lawyers ransacked Shah's courtroom, smashing windows to protest against the judgement.

After yesterday's protest and the attack on his office, the judge is not attending his office, Malik Khalid Jawad, president of the district bar association in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, told AFP. He also said: The bar has also requested his transfer because it can create a law and order situation.

Update: Religious parties to press for assassin's release

6th October 2011. See article from thenews.com.pk

All major religious parties of the country affiliated with all schools of thought have rejected the death sentence awarded by Anti-Terrorism Court to Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the police guard who gunned down former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and also announced the launch of a countrywide movement for his release.

Addressing an all parties conference hosted by JUP under the banner of Tehrik Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR), the top religious leaders hailing from 40 parties termed the court verdict violative of the Quran and Sunnah and the result of a prejudicial trial in which anti-terrorism law was applied to a murder committed out of rage.

Terming the verdict a direct attack on the Ideology of Pakistan, the participants in the conference vowed to protect the honour of Mohammed with every drop of their blood by foiling all the West-funded conspiracies to neutralize the blasphemy laws, besides struggling for the release of Mumtaz Qadri.

Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Syed Munawar Hasan announced a strong protest across the country on this coming Friday.

Update: Protests against the death sentence for the murder of Salman Taseer

8th October 2011. See article from kansascity.com

After the weekly prayers Friday, demonstrations were held in several cities, including Rawalpindi, where Pakistan's military is headquartered, and Lahore, against the death sentence handed down by a court last weekend to Mumtaz Qadri, a police commando who in January shot dead Salman Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province.

Taseer had spoken out against the country's blasphemy law, which has been used to prosecute Christians and members of other religions for alleged insults to Islam.

An angry mob of several hundred congregated in Rawalpindi, Qadri's hometown, next to Islamabad, throwing rocks and blocking a major road. In Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, about 2,000 people chanting slogans gathered in the center of the city.

Update: Protests not well attended

10th October 2011. From Minority Concern

On the call of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC, a coalition of Islamic parties), many Islamic political parties held countrywide rallies on Oct. 7 for the release of a Muslim assassin, Mumtaz Ahmed Qadri. Along with those small demonstrations, a partial strike was also observed in many cities of Pakistan.

Generally, people did not reply to the call of SIC and in Karachi (the biggest city of the country with 18 million people) only 1,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the court's judgment against Qadri. For those parties, Qadri is a hero who killed a blasphemer. For many observers, Friday's rallies and the call of a countrywide strike got a very poor response.

Update: Appeal Granted

12th October 2011. See article from google.com

A Pakistani court has suspended a policeman's death sentence pending his appeal against conviction for killing a provincial governor who wanted to reform controversial blasphemy laws.

The Islamabad High Court held a preliminary hearing to admit the appeal filed last week. The high court suspended the implementation of the death sentence awarded by the anti-terrorism court until the appeal hearing concludes, said defence lawyer Shuja-ur-Rehman.

The court's two-judge panel will now fix a date for the next hearing.

Update: Judge Flees

31st October 2011. See article from bbc.co.uk

A Pakistani judge who convicted a Muslim extremist of murder has fled to Saudi Arabia after getting death threats, his colleagues say. Pervez Ali Shah gave the death sentence to Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri for killing Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

The Lahore High Court later denied Judge Shah had fled. A court spokesman said that he had taken temporary leave in order to go on a pilgrimage.

 

7th December
2011
  

Update: False Blasphemy...

Pakistan lawyer estimates that 95% of blasphemy case are made up bollox

Pakistan flagA Muslim lawyer in Pakistan estimates that around 95% of the prosecutions for insulting Muhammad or the Koran have no basis.

The lawyer spoke to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) but cannot be named for security reasons.

He echoed the claims of many aid groups who warn that the country's blasphemy laws are being misused to carry out personal vendettas.

He told ACN that the accused are mostly poor people who have no status in society and are unable to defend themselves.

Although he is a Muslim, the lawyer has taken on cases involving Christians and says he and his family have received threats from radicals for representing Christians, Muslims and other people accused of blasphemy. Despite the risk to his life, he does not charge legal fees for blasphemy cases, instead saying that he sees it as his duty to protect poor and innocent people from injustice .

 

7th February
2012
  

Update: Over Revered Cleric...

Pakistan cleric sentenced to death after an overly warm welcome back home
Pakistan flagA revered cleric accused of blasphemy has been sentenced to death and given a 10-year prison term in Pakistan's Punjab province.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq of Talagang town was settled in the US, where he worked as a cleric. When he visited Talagang in 2009, he was given a warm welcome by hundreds of his disciples, some of whom kissed his feet.

But some people objected to the act of bowing down before Ishaq and accused his followers of branding him a prophet. Ishaq's rivals launched a campaign against him and  one man lodged a complaint at Talagang police station in which he accused Ishaq of committing blasphemy. Police booked Ishaq under the much abused blasphemy law.

 

22nd April
2012
  

Update: Double Jeopardy...

Pakistani man acquitted of trumped up blasphemy charges only to be murdered by his accuser

Pakistan flagAn elderly man, recently released from prison after acquittal by the court in a blasphemy case, was shot dead by the murderous complainant.

80-year-old Iqbal Butt was on his way home on a motorcycle rikshaw when he was shot dead when the accuser Maulvi Waqas and an unidentified accomplice chased him on a motorcycle and opened fire, resulting in his death.

Javed Butt, stepson of Iqbal Butt said the Maulvi Waqas accused his father of blasphemy just to settle score with him after they exchanged some harsh words during an argument earlier on. The accused put pressure on police through protest of clerics and succeeded in registering a case against Iqbal.

After the case was registered, the police arrested Iqbal and he was jailed but on December 30, 2011 he was honourably acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The complainant Maulvi Waqas, a Khateeb of a local Mosque, was unhappy with the acquittal and he along with an unknown accomplice shot Iqbal Butt, the Investigating policeman said.

A case has been registered against Waqas and his unknown accomplice but no arrests have been made as yet. According to police, raids are being conducted to find the accused.

 

30th April
2012
  

Pages of Danger...

Lynch mob accuses man of blasphemy in Pakistan

Pakistan flagSaddar police rescued a man suspected of defiling pages of the Quran at a mosque. Police said the man, identified as Imran, was mentally-challenged.

Police spokesman Muhammad Akram said the suspect had denied having burned any page of the Quran. He quoted Imran as saying that he had burnt some worn out papers he collected from a mosque while cleaning the shelves. But, he added, he had no idea that the pages came out of the Quran. He said he had started cleaning the shelves on seeing a lot of dust.

Earlier, he was detained by a mob of dozens of people who had gathered on the Toba-Gojra Road following announcements from loudspeakers of several mosques in the locality. He was handed over to a police team on the assurance that appropriate action would be taken against him.

The arrest had followed a violent demonstration near Jani Wala railway station. The protesters blocking the road dispersed four hours later after baton charge and tear-gas shelling by the police.

 

28th May
2012

 Update: Talking Balls...

Pakistan's president spouts bollox about his country's blasphemy laws being used to abuse minorities

asif ali zardariPakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has said that his government was determined not to permit anyone to misuse blasphemy law against minorities or any other vulnerable section of society and was also vigorously promoting inter-faith harmony.

In a meeting with Father Robert McCulloch, Procurator General from the Vatican, at the Presidency, Zardari said the government was determined to harness the potential and contribution of minorities in all walks of life.

Meanwhile...

See article from christianpost.com

Police in Pakistan have charged a young Christian man with blasphemy after he had an argument with Muslims over a billiards game.

Farooqabad Police arrested Sajid Inayat and charged him with desecrating the Quran under the country's much abused blasphemy laws after area young men accused him of setting on fire holy pages placed in a box on an electricity pole, Inayat's cousin, Irfan Manzoor said.

Manzoor told Compass that his cousin had been falsely accused because he had had an argument with some local Muslim boys over a billiards game just two days before the alleged incident.

The muslim boys raised a clamor, and a mob gathered at the scene. Panic among Christians spread, and several people left their houses anticipating violence, he said.

Sheikhupura District Police Officer Haider Ashraf said that authorities had sent Inayat to jail on judicial remand. An inquiry is being conducted by a Superintendent of Police-rank official, and justice would be administered on merit, he added.

 

4th June
2012

 Update: Especially Concerned...

UN Special Rapporteur find's Pakistans blasphemy law to be unjust and that judges are coerced into finding innocent people to be guilty

UN logoPakistani judges are often pressured to convict people accused under the country's blasphemy laws that call for the death penalty for anyone insulting Islam, a special U.N. representative said.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws call for the death penalty for anyone insulting Islam, the Koran or the religious character of Muhammad. Pakistani Christians live in fear of being arrested under the laws, which critics say are often misused to settle personal scores or family feuds.

Gabriela Knaul, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, told a news conference that lawyers are also reluctant to defend clients accused under the blasphemy laws because of intimidation. Knaul said:

I am especially concerned regarding cases brought under the so-called blasphemy law as it was reported to me that judges have been coerced to decide against the accused even without supporting evidence.

They are afraid of reprisals by local communities because of their interpretation of the law\.

 

13th June
2012

 Update: Dangerous Words...

Christian preacher arrested in Pakistan for quoting from the Qur'an in a sermon

Pakistan flagIn the Punjab district of Sialkot, a Christian pastor has been accused of blasphemy and threatened with death after quoting from the Qur'an during a sermon.

Pastor Joshua was arrested on May 24 after a large crowd led by Muslim clerics gathered around the church to complain about his quoting from Islamic scriptures. Pastor Joshua was raised as a Muslim, which is believed to be one of the reasons for the accusations made against him.

He was released without charge after partners of VOM Canada's sister mission in the UK, Release International, intervened on his behalf. He and his nine-year-old son are now in the protective care of Release partners.

 

23rd June
2012

 Update: Lynch mob bays blasphemy...

Pakistan flagA mob attacked a police station in Pakistan demanding a man detained for allegedly desecrating the Koran be handed over for lynching. The attack left one person dead and 19 with gunshot wounds.

The violence erupted after police arrested a mentally retarded man said to have burnt pages of a Muslim religious book in Kuchlak, in the Baluchistan province, senior administration official Qambar Dashti told AFP:

Angry protesters, mostly Afghan refugees, torched several vehicles and pelted police with stones.

Chanting the man should be killed for blasphemy, they later entered the police station and started firing.

Police fired tear gas shells and opened fire in self defence, Quetta police chief Qazi Wajid said. The mob claimed the man deserved death for blasphemy and demanded police hand him over to them, he said.

 

24th June
2012

 Update: Lynch mob attacks police station to get their hands on blasphemy victim...

Pakistan flagAnother victim of Paksitan's blasphemy laws has been sent to prison.

The accused man, Saleem, was said to be a drug addict and had been living alone in a flat in Nazimabad. He had allegedly torched a copy of the Quran, following which police arrested him on the complaint of some residents of the area and lodged a case against him.

As news of the incident spread in the area, an angry mob attacked the Temuria police station on Sunday and pelted at a police party with stones, injuring a constable and damaging two mobile vans.

 

5th July
2012

 Update: Religion of the Lynch Mob...

Pakistan mob burns man to death for supposed blasphemy

Pakistan flagA Pakistani mob has taken a man accused of blasphemy from a police station and burnt him to death, police say. Witnesses said hundreds of people looked on as he screamed for help.

The man was being held for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran in public. The incident took place on the outskirts of Bahawalpur, in Punjab province.

Police said they detained the man after locals complained that he had desecrated the Koran. But before the allegation could be investigated, thousands of angry people surrounded the police station, police said. Police inspector Ghulam Mohiuddin told the BBC:

They were demanding that we kill him in front of them, or they'll take him away and kill him themselves,

After police unsuccessfully tried to calm the crowd, the mob attacked the station:

We were totally outnumbered. There were too many of them and they were hysterical. Eventually, they succeeded in taking him away.

The man was reportedly beaten and dragged to the spot where he is said to have desecrated the Koran. The mob then poured petrol on him and set him on fire.

No arrests have been made yet.

 

28th August
2012

 Updated: Blasphemy Law Misused in Lahore...

Just as the president claims he'll not permit misuse

asif ali zardariPakistan's President Asif Zardari on Thursday said the government is aware of the misuse of blasphemy law against minorities by vested interests and it will not permit the misuse of any law against vulnerable groups.

Addressing a reception at the Presidency held to mark National Minorities Day, Zardari called upon religious scholars from all schools of thought to get together and consider ways and means to stop the misuse of blasphemy law. He spouted:

There is an urgent need in the world today more than ever for removing distrust and misunderstandings among the followers of different religions, he said. We all must work together to prove wrong those who predict clash of civilization.

Meanwhile: Blasphemy law misused in Lahore against the vulnerable Ahmadi group

See article from zeenews.india.com

A member of the minority Ahmadi sect has been charged with blasphemy for the second time by authorities in Pakistan's Punjab province for the ludicrous offence of posing as a Muslim and for displaying a translation of a Quranic text in his shop.

Muhammad Ashraf, a jeweller from Sargodha, was charged under the controversial blasphemy law after a cleric named Hafiz Muhammad Imran complained against him to police.

Meanwhile: Blasphemy law misused against prominent christian leader

See See article from catholicculture.org

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been exploited to bring highly questionable charges against another prominent Christian, the AsiaNews service reports.

Rev. Zafar Bhatti, who heads the Jesus World Mission, has been jailed after Muslims complained that he had insulted Islam in text messages. Christian leaders say that the charges reflect personal animosities against the Protestant minister.

Meanwhile: Blasphemy law misused against 11 year old Downs Syndrome girl

20th August 2012. See article from dawn.com

An 11-year-old Christian girl, suffering from Down's Syndrome, was arrested on Saturday on supposed blasphemy charges, after being accused of burning passages of the Holy Quran. Rifta Masih was jailed by the police in Mehrabadi village, near Islamabad, after being severely beaten up by locals, for allegedly burning 10 pages of the Noorani Qaida.

According to sources, locals blocked the Kashmir Highway for hours and surrounded the Ramna police station in G-11 when the police initially showed reluctance to register a case against the young girl. The police, however, soon succumbed to the pressure, registering a blasphemy case against Rifta and formally arresting her on Thursday.

The arrest has broken the silence of the ruling PPP which has been quiet on the abusive use of the law over the past year. President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), has taken serious notice of the incident and called for a report from the Ministry of Interior.

Dr Nafisa Shah, central coordinator of PPP's human rights cell, also issued a statement expressing concern over the girl's arrest and termed it a glaring example of misuse of the blasphemy law.

Presidency's spokesman Senator Farhatullah Khan Babar quoted the president as saying that blasphemy by anyone could not be condoned but no one would be allowed to misuse blasphemy law for settling personal scores. According to Babar, the president called for a report within 24 hours, directed the authorities to protect the life and property of everyone and said no-one should be allowed to take the law in his own hands.

Update: Presidential Bollox. Refusing proposals to limit the abuse of blasphemy law

28th August 2012. See article from dailytimes.com.pk

Recommendations by the Council of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan (CIIP) on the country's abused blasphemy law which have been presented to parliament await the government's response for the last several years.

Apparently the government is reluctant to give a final nod due to unpublished reasons. Some believe that clerics are pressing the government not to consider these recommendations. And of course there are the upcoming elections.

The CIIP has said that the misuse of the blasphemy law was tantamount to blasphemy, and therefore a person who was guilty of misuse of this law should be punished under the same law. The council has recommended death penalty for anybody misusing the blasphemy law.

It has also recommended only the judges of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) hold proceedings in blasphemy cases (The FSC consists of five permanent judges and three renowned Islamic scholars). The council has recommended that police should investigate the complaint systematically before registering a case.

It is also proposed that the complainant should produce concrete evidence to substantiate charges while lodging a first information report (FIR), adding that the accused should be given the right to defend himself or herself through a legal adviser. It also adds that a senior magistrate should supervise the police investigations prior to the registration of the case.

However, the council strongly opposed any amendment to the extreme penalties applying to the blasphemy law.

Sources said the CIIP had given several reminders to the Interior and Religious Affairs ministries in this regard, but the successive governments had not even cited reasons for delaying the recommendations.

 

8th September
2012

 Update: Blasphemy Law Abuse...

14 year old girl released on bail after bollox charges of blasphemy
asif ali zardari

  Pakistan's president claims that he will not let the blasphemy law be a abused

In a previously unheard of move, a Pakistani judge has granted bail to a young, mentally challenged Christian girl accused of supposedly insulting Islam by burning pages of the religion's holy book.

But defense lawyers expressed concern for her safety in a lynch mob society where blasphemy allegations often result in vigilante justice.

The girl, who medical officials say is 14 years old, was arrested Aug. 16 after an angry mob surrounded her house in the capital, Islamabad, and accused her of burning pages from the Quran, an act punishable by life in prison. Her lawyer has denied the allegation.

A Muslim cleric from her neighborhood was accused of planting evidence to incriminate the girl. Police arrested the cleric after a follower from his mosque accused him of stashing pages of a Quran in the girl's bag to make it seem as if she burned them. He allegedly planted the evidence to push Christians out of the neighborhood and is now being investigated for blasphemy himself. He has denied the allegation.

Judge Mohammed Azam Khan set bail at 1 million Pakistani rupees, or about $10,500, a significant sum in a country where many families live on only a few dollars a day. A Pakistani group that represents minorities said it would pay the bail.

The girl's lawyers said it would be the responsibility of the government to protect her and her family when she's released.

Update: Lynch Mob Society

12th September 2012.  See article from bbc.co.uk

The family of a young Pakistani Christian girl, known as Rimsha, who faces blasphemy charges, say their Muslim neighbours threatened to burn them alive inside their home.

Speaking to the BBC from a secret location outside Islamabad, Rimsha's father said he feared for their lives.

He insisted his daughter was innocent. Rimsha was released on bail on Saturday, but could still face charges.

She had been accused of burning pages of the Koran. But a cleric who had accused her was arrested last week for allegedly planting evidence against her, and himself desecrating the Koran.

 

20th September
2012

 Update: Lynched for Not Joining Lynch Mob...

Accusation of blasphemy over refusal to join Pakistan protest
asif ali zardari

  Pakistan's president claims that he will not let the blasphemy law be a abused

Demonstrators angry over an anti-Islam film accused a local businessman of blasphemy following an argument that broke out when he refused to join their protest.

The incident in the city of Hyderabad began when hundreds of protesters rallied. Some protesters demanded that businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan shut his roughly 120 shops in solidarity, said police officer Munir Abbasi. When Khan refused, one of his tenants said his decision supported the film.

The protesters claimed Khan insulted the Prophet while arguing with them, said city police chief Fareed Jan. But he said there was no evidence to suggest the insults really occurred.

Protesters ransacked Khan's house, and surrounded a police station, refusing to go away until officials opened a blasphemy case, Abbasi said. The situation became even more inflamed when religious leaders from one of the biggest mosques in the city issued an edict calling for Khan's death and announced from the mosque's loudspeakers that he should be killed.

The police officer said Khan and his family members had gone into hiding in fear for their lives.

 

22nd September
2012

 Update: False Accusation...

Investigators find that a young girl was in fact stitched up on a bollox blasphemy charge in Pakistan

Pakistan flagA high-powered team investigating the Rimsha Masih blasphemy case has found the cleric of a mosque guilty, and has declared Rimsha as innocent due to lack of evidence.

Rimsha, believed to be around 14 years of age and reportedly suffering from some mental disability, was allegedly seen burning pages inscribed with Quranic verses, last month. The news of the desecration spread like wild fire, following which violent locals bashed up Rimsha and her mother. The police later arrested Rimsha on August 16 on the demand of the lynch mob. Rimsha languished in judicial custody for weeks, after which she was released and transferred to an undisclosed location.

The police have now found cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti guilty of hatching conspiracy against Rimsha who was arrested by the Islamabad police.

The case took a new turn when a witness said in his statement before the police that the Chishti had added some burnt pages of the Quran to execute his plan to expel the Christian community from the locality, police sources said.

Two other witnesses confirmed the statement, police sources said.

Update: But still the girl's torment continues

25th September 2012. See article from rferl.org

The teenage Christian girl in Pakistan who is accused of blasphemy will stand trial as a juvenile, a Pakistani court has ruled. She has been accused of burning pages of the Koran, although police reports say there are no witnesses or evidence of any crime.

An investigating police officer has accused local imam Khalid Jadoon Chishti of deliberately tearing the pages out of a Koran and planting them so Masih would appear to be the culprit. Chishti was taken into police custody after being accused of deliberately stuffing pages of the Holy Koran into a bag containing burned pages from a book that's used to familiarize children with Arabic words before they study the Muslim holy book

Offsite: Getting Worse

2nd October 2012. See article from dawn.com

Three prosecution witnesses in the blasphemy case on Monday backtracked from their earlier statements in which they had accused the prayer leader of a mosque of altering the evidence against a Christian girl.

 

26th October
2012

 Update: Dangerous Text...

16 year old arrested for supposedly blasphemous text and the inevitable lynch mob burns the family home

Pakistan flagA 16-year-old Christian boy has been held on blasphemy charges in the Pakistani city of Karachi. The boy, named by police as Ryan Stanten, is said to have forwarded a text message which contained supposedly offensive material.

The following day a lynch mob ransacked his family home, setting fire to their belongings on the street.

IAccusations of blasphemy have often led to vigilante killings by mobs.

Rights activists have long urged Pakistan to reform the laws, under which a person can be jailed for life or sentenced to death.

 

28th October
2012

 Update: Dregs of Humanity...

A victim of Pakistan's blasphemy has been murdered despite acquittal of blasphemy charges

Pakistan flagA Pakistani man who was acquitted of a blasphemy charge has been murdered by two men in Punjab province, police officials said.

Sajjad Hussain was gunned down on Friday. He had been arrested in February 2011 after ludicrously being accused of committing blasphemy during a private conversation.

Hussain was booked under Pakistan's reprehensible blasphemy law. However a court acquitted him last month for lack of evidence.

On Friday, Hussain was at his shop when two armed men came and fired at him. He was killed instantly. The two gunmen later surrendered to police. They were identified as Sheikh Zeeshan and Awais Ahmed, both residents Hussain's neighbourhood.

The men told police that they had killed a blasphemer and had no regrets over their action.

 

20th November
2012

 Update: Victim of Pakistan Injustice Freed...

Pakistan yields to international criticism and frees young girl accused of blasphemy

Pakistan flagA Pakistani court has dropped all charges against Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl who provoked a global outcry when she was arrested for blasphemy in August.

The 14-year-old was detained when a neighbour claimed she had burned pages of a religious book. She spent three weeks on remand in an adult prison.

However, she was freed on bail after witnesses said she had been framed by a local Muslim prayer leader.

At a hearing at Islamabad High Court, Chief Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur Rehman threw out the case, citing a lack of witnesses.

 

23rd November
2012

 Update: Mob Rule...

17 year old christian boy accused of blasphemy

Pakistan flagPakistani police have opened a blasphemy case against a teenage Christian boy accused of supposedly sending derogatory text messages about the religious character Mohammed to neighbors in the southern city of Karachi.

The 17-year-old is in hiding along with family members after neighbors formed a lynch mob and came to his house

The mob ransacked the family's home and then lodged a formal complaint against the boy with police.

 

26th November
2012

 Update: Shouting Injustice from the Rooftops...

Another victim of Pakistan's blasphemy laws sentenced to death

Pakistan flagA man accused of blasphemy against the religious character Muhammad was declared guilty and was sentenced to death along with a fine worth Rs100,000 by Additional Sessions Judge Azhar Ali Khan in Chitral.

According to prosecutors, Hazrat Ali Shah uttered something blasphemous in March 2011 in his village of Barenis, which was testified by many villagers.

The convicted man supposedly stood on the roof of his house and spoke loudly and inappropriately against Mohammed creating a tense situation in the village, after which police arrested him and lodged a case.

Scores of Pakistanis have been harassed and implicated in false cases instituted by misusing the Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

 

15th December
2012

 Update: Another Death...

most probably attributed to Pakistan's reprehensible blasphemy laws

Pakistan flagA 22-year-old Christian youth, accused of supposedly burning a copy of the Quran, has died in police custody at a police stationy, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The youth, Nadeem, was detained by the Nankana Sahib police seven days ago. Police say he was being kept in 'protective' custody.

District police officer (DPO) Ghulam Mubashar Maken said allegations against Nadeem had not been substantiated so far. He added that they were informed by a local committee of Ulema that there was no proof so far to suggest the youth had burned the Quran.

Police officials also suggested that Nadeem was tortured by local resident when they allegedly discovered him burning a copy of the Quran.

 

27th December
2012

 Update: Writing a Book about Repression...

Pakistan prootestors bay for the persecution of an author

Pakistan flagHundreds of nutters staged a protest demonstration in the Islamabad demanding to arrest a writer, Dr Iftikhar Khan, under the much abused blasphemy law.

The protest took place after Dr Khan's nephew Shaikh Usman accused him of committing blasphemy by writing objectionable comments on Islam in his book, reports the Daily Times.

Police said the protesting clerics had pointed to certain references in the notes of Dr Khan that included discussion on Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, but added that it was difficult to say if the material constituted blasphemy as defined by the law.

Police said it has sent the same to legal branch to establish the charge.

 

29th December
2012

 Update: Dangerous Art...

Pakistan arts college recalls journal featuring controversial paintings after receiving threats of violence

muhammad ali clericsPakistan's leading arts college has sparked an uproar in Pakistan. A series of paintings depicting Muslim clerics in scenes with strong homosexual overtones has led to the inevitable threats of violence by muslim extremists..

The National College of Arts in Lahore shut down its Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, which published the paintings, pulled all its issues out of bookstores and dissolved its editorial board. The controversial pictures were a series of paintings by artist Muhammad Ali.

A court is now considering whether the paintings' artist, the journal's board and the school's head can be charged with blasphemy.

Two works were claimed to have insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality. One titled Call for Prayer shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary beads as he gazes at the boy, who stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.

A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric's feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from the Quran, appear on the shrine.

Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the first image implied the cleric had fun with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, issued a statement after the paintings were published demanding the college issue a public apology and withdraw all issues of the journal.

College staff members also began receiving anonymous text messages threatening violence, said a member of the journal's editorial board.

 

10th January
2013

 Update: Throwing the Book at Another Blasphemy Victim in Pakistan...

10 years in jail for misquoting a religious verse

Pakistan flagA jusge has jailed a victim of Pakistan's blasphemy laws for 10 years and imposed a fine of Rs200,000 on Tuesday evening.

Ghulam Ali Asghar was arrested on Nov 17, 2011, on a charge of blaspheming the religious character Mohammed by misquoting a Hadith in Punjabi language.

 

26th February
2013

 Update: Blasphemy Against Democracy...

Pakistan's Supreme Court accepts belated call to file a blasphemy case against politician who called for an end to the death penalty for blasphemy

sherry rehmanThe Supreme Court of Pakistan, in its effort to gain popularity with the fundamentalists, has admitted a petition filed against Islamabad's ambassador to the United States of America for committing blasphemy by demanding the withdrawal of the death sentence from the blasphemy laws.

The petition was filed by a business man, Faheem Akhtar Gill, who was 'infuriated' after watching a TV interview of Mrs. Rehman and tried to lodge a case against her for committing blasphemy with the police. When, initially the police refused to accept the case he filed cases on different occasions in a session court and then finally in the High Court of Punjab where the judges also rejected his plea to book Rehman. However the Supreme Court (SC) has taken up Gill's petition against Rehman for regular hearing and asked the police to conduct enquiries into the charges of her having committing blasphemy and report back to the Supreme Court. This creates doubts that the Supreme Court is, in fact, trying to influence the police to find something against another ambassador to the USA.

There was no outcry within the country against Ambassador Rehman with regard to her comments but the Supreme Court without any concrete evidence has taken up the petition for hearing and again transferred it to the police for enquiry. In the initial stage the police already rejected the application of the petitioner as they did not find any concrete evidence of her having committed blasphemy. The question begs to be asked that if the police did not find any evidence before how it might be possible that it suddenly exists now.

Please sign the petition, to stop misuse of the blasphemy law and the calculated efforts by the Supreme Court to suppress the freedom of expression in the country.

Mrs. Rehman, as a member of parliament in 2010, in an interview with a private TV channel, the Dunya News, proposed legislation to remove the death penalty from Section 295 (C) (the Blasphemy Law) of Pakistan Penal Code.

Mrs. Rehman has been a critic of the controversial laws, which have been widely condemned by rights organizations and deemed discriminatory. In November, 2010, Rehman submitted a bill to parliament seeking to reform the blasphemy laws and an end to capital punishment. Rehman has since faced death threats from Islamist militants. She dropped her efforts after facing resistance from her own party.

 

1st March
2013

 Offsite Article: The Kafkaesque reality of Pakistan's blasphemy laws...

Sherry Reheman Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, is under police investigation for alleged blasphemy after making the case on television for the law to be re-examined and for the death penalty to be removed

See article from newstatesman.com

 

10th March
2013

 Update: Rampaging in Pakistan...

Lynch mob rampages over supposed religious insult

Pakistan flagHundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore ransacked a Christian neighborhood and torched dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed supposed blasphemy against the religious character Mohammed.

A large mob from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man's home and police took him into custody to try to pacify the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area. The mob returned later and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze.

Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between two men than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.

He said the Christian community handed over to police the accused man, identified by police and Gill as Sawan Masih, when police came to the neighborhood to investigate. Then the Christians all locked up their houses and went to relatives in other areas. He said the mob this morning was armed with hammers and steel rods and broke into houses, ransacked two churches and burned Bibles and crosses.

Update: 150 muslims arrested

29th March 2013. See article from livemint.com

Police have arrested around 150 people accused of burning dozens of Christian houses in eastern Pakistan after a non-Muslim was accused of making offensive comments about Islam's religious character of Muhammad, police said on Sunday as Christians rallied against the destruction.

The Christian demonstrators blocked a main highway in Lahore and police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters who demanded assistance from the government.

Government spokesman Pervaiz Rasheed promised the government would help them rebuild their houses, but the Christians expressed dissatisfaction with the way the government was handling the incident.

Update: Victim of mob violence sentenced to death

29th March 2014. See article from bbc.co.uk

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city's Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Sawan Masih's lawyer said a judge announced the verdict during a hearing at the jail where the trial has been held, amid fears for his client's safety if he attended court.

The 26-year-old Masih, who is a father of three, has consistently maintained his innocence during the year-long trial. He argues the real reason for the blasphemy allegation was a property dispute between him and his friend.

Update: Appeal

5th April 2014. See article from dawn.com

Sawan Masih, the victim of Pakistan's blasphemy laws who was recently sentenced to death, appealed against his conviction, explaining that the charges were trumped up to speed the eviction of Christians from the area.

We have filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court against the death sentence awarded to Sawan Masih and called for his acquittal and release from jail, his lawyer Naeem Shakir told AFP

 

25th March
2013

 Update: Now the Heat is Off...

Pakistan can get back to the job of persecuting people for supposed blasphemy

Pakistan flagPakistani authorities have reopened a trial against a mentally challenged Christian girl on charges of blasphemy lawyers told BosNewsLife.

A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case against Rimsha Masih, 14, saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry, said the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group.

Rimsha was jailed August 17 in a prison near Islamabad after supposedly burning pages with verses of the Koran, viewed as holy book by Muslims. Her detention at Adiala Jail triggered international protests because of her age and a medical report confirming that she was mentally handicapped. Amid mounting pressure, Rimsha was flown to safety on September 8 and eventually acquitted on the charges, though she remains in hiding.

Update: Accuser cleared

18th August 2013. See article from bbc.co.uk

A Pakistani court has dismissed charges against a Muslim cleric who had been arrested on suspicion of framing a Christian girl accused of blasphemy.

The imam had accused 14-year-old Rimsha Masih of burning pages from the Koran. The teenager spent several weeks in prison, and has since fled to Canada with her family.

Khalid Jadoon was never formally indicted, and as witnesses have now withdrawn their accusations he has been freed.

It had been claimed that he planted pages of the Koran in a bag containing ash which was seized from the girl, who is believed to have learning difficulties.

 

5th April
2013

 Update: Pakistan Ponders Its Image as a Lynch Mob Society...

The worldwide view that Pakistan's blasphemy law is woefully unjust starts to register with parliamentarians

pakistan parliamentDiscussing the Badami Bagh incident in Lahore, Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on National Harmony has recommended stern punishment for people involved in making false blasphemy accusations.

Mir Mohammad Ali Rind who presided over the meeting at the Parliament House said the burning of properties in Badami Bagh was a tragic incident which portrayed a wrong image of Pakistan all over the world. He said immediate steps should be taken to avoid such kind of incidents in future.

Kamran Michael, a member of the committee, said when people were accused of blasphemy it took them eight to 10 years to prove their innocence in courts and even after that they could not stay safe in their areas.

At the moment as many as 100 Christians and a few hundred Muslims are in jails because they were involved in cases of blasphemy but not a single one has been convicted. There should be equal punishment (death penalty) for the person who makes false blasphemy accusation.

Members of the committee agreed with the proposal and decided to recommend legislation for avoiding misuse or abuse of blasphemy law.

Of course the previous MP who suggested this very sensible amendment was herself accused of blasphemy just for making this suggestion.

 

15th April
2013

 Update: Lower Courts open to Lynch Mob Pressure...

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recommends that only the high court should hear blasphemy cases

human rights commission of pakistan logoThe Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has recommended that the first trial in a blasphemy charge should be heard at a high court and that no case should be registered without investigation by a senior police officer and endorsement by a senior prosecution authority. The recommendation is part of the report: State of Human Rights in 2012.

The HRCP believes that the blasphemy-related provisions of the law need to be withdrawn. It also recommended changes to the procedure of blasphemy cases on priority.

The report states that 23 cases were registered against 27 Muslims, including two women, in 2012 for offences related to religion. Two of the suspects were burned to death. It says one of the accused was acquitted, one sentenced to death, two imprisoned for life and one for 25 years in cases initiated before 2012. Eight cases were registered against members of the Christian community.

 

5th July
2013

 Update: A Start...

Pakistan forms a Senate committee to look into humans rights violations in the name of blasphemy

pakistan parliament julyPakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has formed a sub-committee to look into the blasphemy law to highlight human rights violations and protect people's rights.

Chairing a committee meeting, Senator Afrasiab Khattak announced that the sub-committee would be headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain.

 

22nd July
2013

 Update: A Blasphemy Against Basic Humanity...

Pakistan court imposes a life sentence for supposed blasphemy in an SMS message

Pakistan flagA court in Punjab's Toba Tek Singh district sentenced the Christian man, Sajjad Masih, for sending blasphemous text messages from a mobile phone to Muslim clerics and others in Gojra town in that district, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

Police say Masih was engaged to Ruma Masih of Gojra town but she contracted marriage with another Christian man in the U.K. To teach her a lesson, Masih used her SIM to send blasphemous messages to clerics.

Police initially refrained from charging Masih under the blasphemy law, but added it to the complaint later on the demand of Muslim clerics. The clerics also pressured police to include his ex-fianceee in the case. Consequently, Pakistan's interior ministry sought a red corner notice from Interpol for Ruma's arrest in the U.K., but she could not be traced.

The blasphemy law is frequently misused for personal revenge. It carries no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. The law is also used by muslim extremists to target religious minorities.

 

19th August
2013

 Update: A Suggestion to Improve Pakistan's Unjust Blasphemy Law...

Religious bodies suggest that blasphemy cases should only be pursued if approved by a committee of clerics from different religions
Pakistan flagAfter the murder of a politician campaign for changes to Pakistan's disgraceful blasphemy law, it is hardly surprising that lawmakers seem somewhat slow in sorting out the mess.

Noting the indifference of executive and legislative authorities in blasphemy matters, some religious leaders have appealed to the government to form a committee of clerics and notables from different faiths and sects to examine such cases before approving a police investigation.

Talking to The News on Saturday, these ulema (religious scholars) have expressed their dismay over the manner in which such sensitive issues were being handled without care thus resulting in social strife and the tarnishing of country's image abroad.

The ulema also noted that it was decided by the government that cases would only be pursued after a thorough probe into the reported facts and allegations by senior police officers. But, in practice, this was not being done, claimed the religious scholars.

With these conditions prevailing in the country's legal and social system, it is highly likely that false blasphemy cases are being pursued.

 

26th August
2013

 Offsite Article: Sentenced to death for a sip of water...

Blasphemy heartbreaking story woman sentenced A Christian woman explains why she faces hanging in Pakistan for the crime of blasphemy. By Asia Bibi

See article from nypost.com

 

24th September
2013

 Updated: Somebody's Got to Die...

Pakistan moots penalties for false blasphemy accusations
council of islamic ideology pakistan logoA long-standing demand for balance in blapshemy law appears to be nearing fruition as members of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) have recommended the death penalty for anyone convicted of making false accusations of blasphemy.

The recommendation, if formally approved by the CII, will mean that anyone convicted of making false blasphemy charges will be liable to the same punishment as a blasphemy convict.

The CII is a constitutional body that advises the legislature whether or not a certain law is repugnant to Islam.

CII member Allama Tahir Ashrafi said most members of the council agreed to the proposed move. He said: If made part of the law, this provision will discourage people from using blasphemy laws for settling personal scores.

Update: But in the end there is 'no need' to change the most unjust law on the planet

24th September 2013. See article from thenews.com.pk

Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani has maintained that there was no room for amending the blasphemy law.

We want to make it clear that neither is there any room nor is there any need for amending the blasphemy law, said CII Chairman Maulana Shirani while addressing a press conference here. He also rejected reports that the CII in its recent meeting proposed changes in the blasphemy law to award death penalty to those who misuse this law.

He clarified that the CII observed that there should be punishment for those who misused any law. The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in its Sections 194 and 211 provides for punishment to those with false evidence or found guilty of making false complaints under any law.

 

6th December
2013

 Update: Even Nastier...

Pakistan's sharia court asks for law change requiring a mandatory death sentence for blasphemy

federal shariat courtPakistan's Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has issued orders to remove the provision of life-imprisonment from the blasphemy law, stating that only death is punishment for blasphemy and sought a report from the government for implementation of the order within a couple of months.

The court noted that in its ruling of 1990, the FSC had clarified that the mention of life imprisonment with death sentence should be removed from the blasphemy law, as humiliation of any prophet was intolerable and the one doing so should be given only death sentence.

 

28th December
2013

 Update: High Flyer Crashes...

A blasphemy accusation destroys a career and possibly a pilot's life
pakistan international logoA senior pilot of Pakistan's state-run airlines has gone on leave after a blasphemy accusation for supposedly insulting the religious character Mohammed.

The president of the PIA employees association, Hidayatullah Khan, complained to the airline's chairman that the senior pilot supposedly used derogatory words about a kalma or Islamic declaration of faith and the religious character Mohammed in the presence of many colleagues.

A three-member committee, set up to probe the matter has declared the pilot guilty of blasphemy and recommended he should be removed from service.

The pilot went on leave to save himself from extremist elements in the airline, sources said. Some of his friends even suggested he should leave the country to save his life, they said.

You see blasphemy is the most sensitive issue in Pakistan and one may lose one's life if he or she faces blasphemy charges, said a PIA official, who did not want to be named.

 

30th December
2013

 Update: Seeing the Light...

Nasty blasphemy cases in Pakistan
Pakistan flagBlasphemy as a murder weapon for honour killing

See article from opposingviews.com

The daughter of a famous bureaucrat has been stitched up with a blasphemy charge after refusing to participate in an arranged marriage.

Eraj Sajjad's father reportedly arranged a marriage with businessman Imtiaz Alam against her will. She explained in a letter how she escaped from her residence in Lahore because of the arranged marriage. According to Sajjad, Alam belongs to a very wealthy family and is an influential person. For these reasons she believes he was able to register a false blasphemy case against her out of revenge because she refused to marry him.

Sajjad sought protection and withdrawal of the false blasphemy case against her, The News reports. Sajjad also stressed that her parents and Alam now wanted to kill her in the name of honor.

Her request for help and dismissal of the blasphemy charge was denied and the blasphemy case still stands.

Seeing the light is fatal

See article from tribune.com.pk

Meanwhile 2 more victims of Pakistan's blasphemy law have been condemned to death for blasphemy.

According to the prosecution, Riaz Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, devotees of Chaman Sarkar in Gujrat district, had claimed in 2011 that they had seen God.

Qari Muhammad Ahmed, the complainant, claimed that the convicts had also invited other people to join them in their union with God through Chaman Sarkar.

Malik Ghulam Qasim, the defence lawyer, told The Express Tribune that he would continue to fight against a law that could be easily misused to victimise innocent people.

 

25th January
2014

 Update: Deluded Justice...

British man sentenced to death for supposed blasphemy
Pakistan flagA court in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi has sentenced a 70-year-old British man to death after convicting him of blasphemy.

Muhammad Asghar was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to various people claiming to be a prophet, reports say. His lawyers argued for leniency, saying he has a history of mental illnessl. Asgharn has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and had treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh, but the court did not accept his medical reports from the UK, reports say.

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam.

The blasphemy complaint against Asghar was filed by a tenant in his building, after he was given an eviction notice.

His lawyer told the BBC's Saba Eitizaz that she was forcibly removed from the case by the judge and that proceedings were carried out behind closed doors.

His lawyer says she will launch an appeal against the verdict. Higher courts in Pakistan have been known to overturn blasphemy verdicts handed down in lower courts because of insufficient evidence.

Senior UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said British officials were providing consular support to Asghar. We will be raising our concerns in the strongest possible terms with the Pakistani government, she added.

 

17th March
2014

 Update: Burning Anger...

Muslim mob set light to Hindu community centre
Pakistan flagAn angry muslim mob set fire to a Hindu community centre in southern Pakistan after allegations circulated that a Hindu had desecrated Islam's religious book, police said.

The incident took place overnight in the city of Larkana in Sindh province after some people said they saw burned pages of the Qur'an in a garbage bin near the home of a Hindu man, said Anwar Laghari, the area police officer.

Laghari said that a crowd of about 200 angry people gathered and attacked the community centre, which was next to a Hindu temple. He said the building was partly gutted, while the alleged desecrater and his family members were taken into custody, partly for protection from the mob.

 

5th April
2014

 Update: Dangerous Texts...

Christians sentenced to death for supposedly blasphemous text messages
Pakistan flagA local court has sentenced a Christian couple to death for supposed blasphemy and fined them Rs100,000 each.

Shafqat Maseeh, watchman of Gojra's Saint Cathedral School, and his wife Shagufta Maseeh were arrested  last year on the charge of supposedly sending blasphemous text messages to the complainants, shopkeeper Malik Mohammad Hussain and Anwar Mansoor Goraya.

The verdict was announced by additional district and sessions 'judge' Amer Habib.