Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

 

Pakistan hangs killer of Governor who challenged blasphemy law

by VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Pakistan has executed the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had justified the 2011 assassination upon Taseer’s desire for reforms in the blasphemy law, and for his support of Asia Noreen, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy. Mumtaz Qadri was hanged early today (Monday,  29 Feb.), after his appeal to the President […]

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NEWS UPDATES:
Release partners in Pakistan have requested prayer for Pastor Zafar Bhatti whose blasphemy trial has its next hearing on Wednesday. Pastor Zafar, who is in jail in Rawalpindi, Punjab, was detained after an Islamic leader accused him in 2012 of sending blasphemous text messages. Reports last month that Zafar had been shot dead by police proved to be untrue. Pray for Pastor Zafar’s acquittal.

Yesterday’s hearing in the blasphemy trial of Pakistani pastor Zafar Bhatti was adjourned until October 29. Pastor Zafar, who is in jail in Rawalpindi, Punjab, was arrested in connection with accusations made by an Islamic leader that he had received blasphemous text messages (Prayer Alert, October 6). Continue to pray for Pastor Zafar’s acquittal. (Source: Release partners)

Also, the next hearing in Asia Bibi’s appeal against a death sentence for blasphemy is scheduled for this Thursday. She has been detained since 2009. Please pray for Asia’s acquittal on appeal and her immediate release. (Source: Release partners)

Since 1986, more than 1,000 people have been accused under the blasphemy laws, with over 50% of the cases involving religious minorities. No one has been executed for blasphemy by the government, but at least 33 people (mostly accused but also two judges) have been killed by militants. Once an accusation has been made, some extremists see it as their duty to kill the person concerned, whether or not their guilt has been proven.Some senior politicians, including the late Benazir Bhutto, promised to amend the laws, but this has not happened because of extremist threats. Ms Bhutto abandoned plans to reform the laws after a three-day strike. In 2011, two seniorgovernment figures – Salman Taseer and Shabhaz Bhatti – were assassinated for their opposition to the blasphemy laws and their support for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.It is now thought that Asia’s case is not likely to be heard until 2015. The Lahore High Court has a large backlog of cases and is currently hearing appeals that were filed in late 2008 and early 2009. Cases can be heard out of turn on application from an aggrieved party; some from as recently as 2012 are being heard, but equally some from 2005 are still pending. A human rights advocate has lobbied the chief justice on Aasia’s behalf, but he has received no response.

 

Why Christian Woman Asia Bibi was Actually Accused of Blasphemy in Pakistan

ICC Note:

For the past 4 years, Asia Bibi has been imprisoned for being accused of defaming the Prophet Mohammed. In 2009, Asia drank water from the same cup as a Muslim woman working in the fields. The Muslim woman declared that Asia had now made the water unclean and said that Asia must convert to Islam to be made clean again. When Asia refused to convert, she was accused of blasphemy. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws continue to be a source of controversy because they are often abused to settle scores or personal vendettas. In many incidences, extremists in Pakistan use the blasphemy laws to abuse religious minorities, often using a blasphemy accusation as a prelude to an attack on a religious minority community.

8/28/2013 Pakistan (Daily Mail) – A Christian woman has spoken of how she was given a death sentence in Pakistan because she drank water from a well with a cup used by Muslim women.

Mother-of-five Asia Bibi, 46, has spent the last four years languishing in a prison cell after being condemned to hang following a conviction for blasphemy.

She denied the charge of defiling the name of the prophet Mohammed during an argument with Muslim co-workers but was convicted following a  trial.

With  97 per cent of Pakistan Muslim, hostility towards Christians is rife and the government refuses to release her because of angry protests by extremists.

Two government officials who have spoken out on her behalf have been murdered  – including Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.

Now, as reported by the New York Post, Mrs Bibi – a farm worker from rural Punjab –  has released a memoir called ‘Blasphemy’.

She describes how she has no idea how long she has left to live. Talking about how she ended up in her position, she says: ‘I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using “their” cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.

‘I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.’

In the book, Mrs Bibi describes how she ended up in this desperate situation on June 14, 2009 after going fruit-picking in the blazing sun.

Dripping with sweat as midday approached, she decided to head towards a well for a drink of water.

After pulling up a bucketful of water she used an old metal cup resting on the side of the well. But just seconds later she heard groans and noises from behind her.

One of the fruit pickers – who was also one of her neighbours – suddenly shouted that she cannot drink the water because it is forbidden by God.

The woman shouted out, telling all of the fruit pickers that the water in the well had been dirtied because Mrs Bibi drank from their cup.

After being told by the angry fruit-pickers to convert to Islam to redeem herself, Mrs Bibi decided to stand up to the crowd and defend Christianity.

But after she is pushed and shoved by the group, Mrs Bibi ran home.

But, five days later, while fruit picking in another field, things became much worse. She was suddenly attacked by an angry crowd who accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

She was eventually taken battered and bruised to the village imam and told she can redeem herself  only by conversion to Islam or otherwise die.

She refused to convert but begged with the crowd that she did not insult their religion. They accused her of lying and repeatedly beat her until two policemen took her to a police station.

That day she was thrown into a prison cell and has remained locked up ever since.

Similar laws and injustices happen in Egypt.

Sawan Masih (recently given death sentence) and Martha Bibi face similar charges. Yousif Masih who was also accused and  recently died in prison leaves a wife Surriya Bibi and three children who are in hiding. They unwittingly used sheets that had Islamic symbols on them to make a roof. Sajjad Masih from Gojra, Punjab is growing in his faith, according to prison chaplain after being sentenced to life last July for sending “blasphemous texts”. May God sustain all these and their families and may they yet be acquitted.

 

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