SLMP taking up Asiya case to Supreme Court


VIDEO: ‘Please Pray For Asia’: Appeal From Group Voice Of The Martyrs

 

Published by NewsInCountrys

Published on Oct 17, 2014

 

The Voice of the Martyrs and Cornerstone Television Network have made a video asking people to pray for Asia Bibi, the woman sentenced to death for making ‘blasphemous’ comments about the prophet Mohammed.

 

Pakistani Christian woman is sentenced to hang for ‘blasphemous’ comments about prophet Mohammed during row with Muslim women who refused to share water

A Pakistani Christian woman has been sentenced to hang after she was accused of making ‘blasphemous’ comments about the prophet Mohammed during an argument.

 
While working as a berry picker in 2009, 46-year-old Asia Bibi got into a dispute with a
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Shamim Masih reports that SLMP Chairman Sohail Johnson is taking up Asia Bibi’s cause to fight the Pakistan Blasphemy Law conviction by appealing to Pakistan’s highest court.

 

Here are some recent storylines giving perspective to Asia Bibi’s persecution as a Christian:

 

o   PAKISTAN UPHOLDS BLASPHEMY DEATH PENALTY FOR ASIA BIBI. CAMPAIGNERS TO APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT – 10/16/14

 

o   Pakistani, Indian bishops condemn Asia Bibi death sentence – 10/17/14

 

o   Pakistani Christian woman is sentenced to hang for ‘blasphemous’ comments about prophet Mohammed during row with Muslim women who refused to share water – 10/16/14 updated 10/17/14 07:27 EST

 

 

JRH 10/20/14

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SLMP taking up Asiya case to Supreme Court

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 10/19/2014 6:42 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: The time has come that minority parliamentarians need to take a stand; it is time to reopen the debate on the blasphemy law in Pakistan, said Sohail Johnson, chairman Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) [About SLMP]. After the decision of a special division bench of LHC, upholding the death sentence of Asiya Bibi, my heart leapt out to see her kids and after sitting with the Aashiq Masih and her kids, I decided to take this case and now SLMP is going to file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, announced Sohail Johnson.

 

Shamim Masih, Ashiq Masih (Asia's husband) & Sohail Johnson

    

Shamim Masih, Ashiq Masih (Asia’s husband) and Sohail Johnson

 

 

According to the details, a farm worker, mother of 5, is [being] kept away from her children for five years and four month. Yes, Asiya Bibi, dared to drink water in the cup of her co-workers in the field. Asiya became the victim of prejudice and greed and was accused of committing blasphemy. She has been in jail since June 19, 2009. She was awarded death sentence by the additional District and Sessions Judge Justice Muhammad Naveed Iqbal, despite the lack of evidence on November, 2010. On 16th October, 2014, a special division bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal, condemned Christian woman Asiya Bibi and upheld her death sentence on the blasphemy charges.

 

Ashiq Masih, the husband of the poor lady, was bitterly weeping when I met him. He said, it [i.e. Sohail Johnson’s announcement] was a ray of hope but the rejection of the appeal has shattered his confidence on Pakistani courts. He confidently said that judges were under pressure. He is still not in the position to control his nerves and how his children will survive, who were hoping their mother [would] come back home. But still he is hopeful and will go for the next judicial avenue – the Supreme Court of Pakistan to appeal.

 

According to her husband, the counsel, was weak and couldn’t convince the judge. He said he will choose the best lawyer of the town in the apex court [common description of Pakistan’s highest court which is a Supreme Court]. Ashiq Masih [placed] blame that [the Muslims] Asma and Mafia. [These two] are the sisters [accusing culprits]. And they falsely implicated Asiya Bibi in the blasphemy case because they felt disgraced and dishonored on the basis of altercation [at the Muslim designated well] and [the] hard words extended to them by Asiya Bibi when they denied drinking water brought by her for them.

 

Ashiq Masih was also critical of the role of some Christian non- government organizations in this regard. He said some of them have worked to worsen the situation. A number of lawyers and non-government organizations are in the race to take credit but are not doing anything practical. A human rights champion reportedly has supported [Asiya Bibi with] just 3000 Rs. [Pakistan Rupees] ever since, but have been gathering millions of the funds in her name [that Asiya has not benefited from], he added.

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Masih

Diplomatic Correspondent

Daily Khabrian – in Urdu (PakBiz.com description – in English) & Channel – 5

Human Rights Activist

 

For Americans especially, I have discovered the best way to donate to Shamim Masih is via Western Union sending this LINK to a Western Union agent in Islamabad. Include Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560

________________________

Edited by John R. Houk

Text and links enclosed by brackets are from the Editor.

 

© Shamim Masih

Will the West Abandon Asia Bibi to an Execution in Pakistan?


Save Asia Bibi - VOM appeal mercy

John R. Houk

© October 17, 2014

 

Islam is peace – NOT. With Islam there is no compulsion of religion – NOT. So-called Moderate Muslims (like CAIR, IST and ISGOKC for example) claim Sharia is compatible to the U.S. Constitution – NOT.

 

In 2009, Asia Bibi—a Pakistani Christian and mother of five—drew a cup of water from a Muslim’s well and incurred the wrath of villagers who accused her of slandering Islam. Convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which is often used to punish Muslims as well as religious minorities, Asia Bibi has languished in jail as she tries to overturn her death sentence. (For Blasphemy, A Death Sentence; From book review on Daily Beast of Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced To Death Over A Cup Of Water; 8/30/13)

 

Asia Bibi has been imprisoned by Pakistan found guilty of breaking that Islamic Supremacist nation’s Blasphemy Law. Her accusers became agitated that a Christian would drink from a well designated for Muslims. The Muslim gals at the well decided to solidify their segregationist agitation by screaming Asia had responded by saying unpleasant things about their pseudo-prophet Mohammed.

 

As is typical in Pakistan prejudice and greed are the primary reasons Muslims use against Christians not liked. Asia is a victim of this prejudice. She denies she made any slurs; however even if she did – SO WHAT! By expressing any kind of displeasure with a religion that denigrates Christianity in its holy writings you receive a death sentence for expressing any displeasure Islam. After some intimidation by Muslim mobs Asia was convicted with a death sentence. Some Pakistanis including Muslims saw the irrationality of this conviction and have made a public case for Asia. Asia’s lawyers have fled. Judges have postponed and/or proceeded with the death sentence legal procedures out of fear from Muslim mobs threatening the Judges and their families. One Pakistan official was even assassinated for the near success of getting Asia Bibi released.

 

On October 16, 2014 Asia Bibi’s appeal was officially denied, placing her on the fast track to be the first Pakistani convicted (one of many convicted or accused) under the Blasphemy Law that will be put to death.

 

 JRH 10/17/14

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Death Sentence Upheld for Christian Mother Asia Bibi in Pakistan

 

By Morning Star News

October 16, 2014 06:39 PM EDT

The Gospel Herald

 

LAHORE, Pakistan – In spite of protests within Pakistan and abroad against the country’s blasphemy laws, the Lahore High Court today upheld the death sentence for a Christian mother accused of insulting Islam’s prophet.

 

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. Arrested in June 2009 after Muslim co-workers in a berry field 60 miles west of Lahore beat her when she refused to convert to Islam, her death sentence was announced in November 2010.

 

Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News that they were hoping for some relief, but that the verdict had devastated the family.

 

“I met Asia in prison a month ago,” he said. “She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet.”

 

Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, told Morning Star News that Justice Anwarul Haq and Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi had rejected her appeal even though there were glaring contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies.

 

“I pointed out the conflicting accounts of the prosecution witnesses, as each one of them had a different narrative regarding the exact location where the local village council was convened in which Asia had allegedly confessed that she had spoken ill of Islam’s prophet and sought forgiveness from the villagers,” Shakir said. “There is also discrepancy in the number of people present as each witness gave different figures.”

 

In addition, the court did not take into account the fact that the First Information Report (FIR) against her was registered six days after the alleged incident, “which clearly shows that the case was a premeditated conspiracy against the Christian woman,” he said.

 

The lawyer said that the complainant in the case, Qari Salem, was not even present in the berry fields where the alleged incident had occurred.

 

“One of the witnesses, a female co-worker of Asia named Maafia, used to study the Koran from Salem’s wife, and we believe that she is the one who provoked Salem, a prayer leader of the village’s local mosque, to lodge a case against Asia as she and her sister, Asma, had an altercation with Asia in the berry fields over drinking water from the same bowl,” Shakir said.

 

Bibi’s appeal had been delayed several times, but he had been confident that the verdict would be overturned, he said.

 

“I was shocked when the judges decided to uphold the sessions court decision,” he said, adding that the court had said that Noreen’s “confession” before villagers was sufficient evidence while ignoring that any such confession might have been coerced by Muslim mob.

 

“We will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court,” he said.

 

Given huge backlogs at the court, however, Christian rights lawyers said it would probably be at least three years before the appeal would be taken up.

 

Islamists Rejoice

 

The courtroom was packed with clerics and members of Islamist extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Bibi’s appeal.

 

“Let us celebrate by distributing sweets!” said one cleric who recited verses from the Koran throughout the almost two-and-a-half-hour court proceeding.

 

“I am very happy,” said Salem, the complainant. “The judges have given a verdict on merit, and Asia deserved it.”

 

Salem’s lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa said the court’s decision, was correct.

 

“Asia’s lawyer tried to prove that the case was registered on a personal enmity, but he failed to prove that,” he said.

 

David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia Pacific director, called the ruling a grave injustice.

 

“Asia Bibi should never have been convicted in the first place – still less sentenced to death – and the fact that she could pay with her life for an argument is sickening,” he said in a press statement. “There were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial, and her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed.”

 

The ruling is the latest chapter in a long ordeal for Bibi, whose case has focused international attention on how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a weapon against religious minorities.

 

While Bibi’s death sentence led to international protests, the possibility of overturning it provoked outrage within Pakistan. Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was slain by his bodyguard on Jan. 4, 2011 because of his support for Bibi and his criticism of the blasphemy law; the bodyguard believed Taseer, a Muslim, had blasphemed by criticizing the law.

 

Meeting with Bibi after her sentencing in 2010, Taseer had told her he believed the charges against her were fabricated and promised to recommend a presidential pardon. He called Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes “a black law” and called for their repeal.

 

Former Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Christian, cabinet-level minister, was shot and killed on March 2, 2011 for calling for reforms to blasphemy laws following Bibi’s trial.

 

“The laws are often used to settle personal vendettas – both against members of minority religious groups and Muslims – while individuals facing charges are frequently targeted in mob violence,” Griffiths said. “Those who speak out against the laws face terrible reprisals. However, the blasphemy laws violate international law and must be repealed or reformed immediately to meet international standards.”

 

Death sentences have rarely been carried out in blasphemy cases, but that is in part because such allegations have frequently led to deadly vigilante attacks on the accused or their lawyers. Pakistan is nearly 96 percent Muslim, according to Operation World, and religiously charged court cases commonly involve clamoring crowds of Muslims and other pressures coming to bear on lawyers and judges. Christians make up 2.45 percent of the population.

 

Mother of two children and stepmother to three others, Bibi was convicted under Section 295-C of the defamation statutes for alleged derogatory comments about Muhammad, which is punishable by death, though life imprisonment is also possible. Pakistan put a de facto moratorium on executions into place in 2008, though one person has been executed since then.

 

In the harvest fields of Ittan Wali in June 2009, her co-workers objected to her touching the container for the water she had fetched, saying that her Christian faith made it impure for them, and they told her to convert to Islam, according to her husband. Her objections were taken as blasphemy, and they beat her before dragging her to a police station, he said.

 

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has stated that Christians and Ahmadis, a minority sect within Islam, are vulnerable to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law, according to The New York Times. More than 20 men have been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law, most of them Christians, though none have been executed, human rights groups say.

 

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been routinely misused to settle personal scores with false accusations. Police have found most blasphemy accusations to be false during investigation, but accusers can make innocent victims suffer months in jail with quick and easy registration of such cases.

 

Of 5,000 cases registered between 1984 and 2004, only 964 people were charged with blasphemy, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. A recent study by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) found that from 1953 to July 2012, there were 434 people blasphemy “offenders” in Pakistan, including 258 Muslims, 114 Christians, 57 Ahmadis and four Hindus.

 

Those acquitted of blasphemy charges also face threats from homicidal vigilantes. Of 52 people extra-judicially murdered after being charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, 25 were Muslims, 15 were Christians, five were Ahmadis, one was Buddhist and one was Hindu, according to the CRSS report.

 

Most blasphemy case acquittals take place at the appellate level, after courts have denied bail so often that the accused spend years in jail, as lower courts tend to decide based on fear of violence by Islamist groups rather than on merit.

 

Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes makes willful desecration of the Koran or a use of its extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment. Section 295-A of the defamation law prohibits injuring or defiling places of worship and “acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens.” It is punishable by life imprisonment, which in Pakistan is 25 years.

 

Blasphemy charges against Rimsha Masih, a girl whose mental age was determined to be less than 14 years old, were dismissed on Nov. 20, 2012 after a judge ruled that they were baseless (see Morning Star News, Nov. 20, 2012). She has since been relocated to Canada.

 

The original article was published on Morning Star News

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Will the West Abandon Asia Bibi to an Execution in Pakistan?

John R. Houk

© October 17, 2014

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Death Sentence Upheld for Christian Mother Asia Bibi in Pakistan

 

Copyright © 2013 The Gospel Herald. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Gospel Herald is an evangelical, transdenominational, christian media company which serves to provide direct, and current news information to the general christian public.

 

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Christian Couple Sentenced to Death


Shafqat Emmanuel (Morning Star News via World Vision in Progress)

Shafqat Emmanuel (Morning Star News via World Vision in Progress)

 

 

AGAIN Pakistan has subjected more Christians to death sentences for blaspheming against Islam. There is an indication that the USA is finally beginning to notice this persecution of the Pakistan Christian minority. Muslims in Pakistan are using the rule of law to exploit Pakistani Christians because the accusations are widely unsubstantiated. Muslims use the Blasphemy Law legal code to settle disputes to their favor or to have an excuse to seize land.

 

Shamim Masih has the report that alerted me to this most recent case against a Christian couple. However, I did a little checking and discovered there is more detail that should pique your awareness about modern day ethnic cleansing by Muslims against Christians in Pakistan. I am posting two other similar stories that should spark some outrage.

 

JRH 4/6/14

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Christian Couple Sentenced to Death

Blasphemy Accused Christian Couple Stand in the Queue of Death

 

By Shamim Masih

Sent: 4/4/2014 8:19 AM

 

ISLAMABAD: On March 27, a session court in Lahore sentenced a Christian man at the heart of the controversy that triggered the riots to death for blasphemy. After a week, on April 4, 2014, session court in Toba Tak Singh announced the death sentence for a Christian couple, Shafaqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kauser, both accused of sending blasphemous text massages.

 

According to World Vision in Progress [WVIP], an additional session judge, Mian Amir Habib, has announced the death sentence for a Christian couple accused of blasphemy case. Last year, on July 21st, 2013, a crippled Shafaqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagafta Kauser were arrested under First Investigation Report – FIR No. 407/13 under section 295-B & C, allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to the local Muslims. WVIP reported that neither the SIM card was registered with their names nor the couple was qualified enough to write these text in English. Furrakh H Saif, chief of WVIP managing the case said that the hypocrisy and the shallowness of our legal system stands exposed. As usual, the lower court has gone with the populist, Islamist stance on a sensitive blasphemy case and kicked the ball down the road to the high court. The blasphemy law will continue to bed evil Pakistan as long as they are on the statute books and local courts remain susceptible to fear of or coercion by violent extremists, he said.

 

In this situation we fear that Pastor Adnan and Asif Pervaiz could be other victims of our Pakistani extra judicial killing, he added.

 

A recent report from a US government advisory panel [Link added by Editor] said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world; listing 15 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences.

 

In January 2014, an elderly Briton was sentenced to death for blasphemy [Link added by Editor] though his lawyers said that court failed consider “overwhelming” evidence of his mental illness.

 

Be Blessed,

Shamim Masih

_______________________

Christian couple get death sentence in blasphemy case

 

By ASHER JOHN

APRIL 4, 2014

Pakistan Today

Just days after a Christian man was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in Lahore, a trial court in Toba Tek Singh on Friday handed death sentence to an uneducated poor Christian couple accused of texting blasphemous messages to local Muslims in Gojra, Pakistan Today has learnt.

 

Advocate Nadeem Hassan, who represented Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, in court, told Pakistan Today that Additional Sessions Judge Mian Amir Habib had announced the death sentence under “great pressure” even though the prosecution had failed to present any concrete evidence against the couple.

 

“Touqir Ashraf advocate and some other Islamist lawyers from Lahore, who were representing the complainants, openly pressurised the judge during the jail trial of the accused. Even on Friday, the complainants’ lawyers kept reciting Quranic verses referring to death for blasphemers, and said that they were willing to become Ghazi Ilamdin Shaheed and Mumtaz Qadri if the judge did not convict the accused,” said Hassan.

 

The case [FIR No. 407/13] against Shafqat, a 43-year-old crippled man, and his wife Shagufta, a cleaner at a local missionary school, was registered on June 20, 2013 by the Gojra City Police Station under sections 295-B and 295-C of the blasphemy law and 25-D of The Telegraph Act of 1985 which recommends a maximum of three years for intentionally “causing annoyance”.

 

They were accused of sending blasphemous text messages to the complainants Muhammad Hussain and Tehsil Bar Association President Anwar Mansoor Goraya from a number allegedly registered in the name of Shagufta on June 18, 2013. The couple was taken into custody on June 20 and sent to the Toba Tek Singh District Jail the next day.

 

“The police failed to recover the SIM [Subscriber Identity Module] allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name from the couple’s possession. The police just produced a receipt of a cellular company on which Shagufta’s national identity card number was written against the number,” the lawyer said, adding that the police had earlier claimed that Hussain’s call data revealed that the messages had been sent from Shagufta’s cell phone number.

 

Hassan said that during the preliminary investigation Shagufta had told the police that her cell phone had been lost for a month, and that she did not know who might have sent the alleged messages. Nevertheless, the Gojra City Police detained the couple, along with their four minor children, and pressured them to name someone who could have sent the messages.

 

Hassan said that in order to placate the mobs led by some Islamist clerics, the police forced Shagufta’s husband Shafqat to confess that he had sent the blasphemous messages. “The police tortured Shafqat to confess before a judicial magistrate but the crippled man had retracted his statement when we moved the court to record his statement again,” he said.

 

Shafqat’s backbone was fractured in an accident in 2004. Since then he has been restricted to a wheelchair due to the paralysis of his lower body. He is also fitted with a catheter. Since his accident, Shagufta has been the only breadwinner for the family’s four children, Ambrose (13), Danish (10), Sarah (7), and Amir (5).

 

The lawyer said that they would challenge the verdict in High Court once they receive a copy of the detailed verdict.

 

NOT THE FIRST CASE

 

At least three other cases have been registered previously against Christians based on blasphemous text messages.

 

In May 2006, Qamar David was accused of sending blasphemous text messages to various Islamic clerics in Karachi. He was convicted in February 2010 and died in prison on March 15, 2011.

 

In January 2009, Hector Aleem and Basharat Khokhar were accused of sending text messages that hurt Muslims’ religious sentiment. They were acquitted of the charge on May 31, 2011.

 

Sixteen-year-old Ryan Stanton was charged with sending blasphemous text messages in Karachi on October 10, 2012. He has fled the country after the family’s home was ransacked by a violent Muslim mob.

 

Pastor Zafar Bhatti was accused of the same crime on November 11, 2012.

 

At least two Muslims, Abdul Sattar and Irfan Rafique, have also been charged for sending text messages.

 

Pakistan has never carried out an execution for blasphemy, which it defines as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.”

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Pakistani couple get death sentences for blasphemy

 

5 April 2014 Last updated at 11:13 ET

BBC

 

A Pakistani Christian couple have been sentenced to death for blasphemy after allegedly sending a text message insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

 

The couple, named as Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, were found guilty of sending the text message to the imam of their local mosque.

 

Allegations of blasphemy against Islam are taken very seriously in Pakistan.

 

Several recent cases have prompted international concern about the application of blasphemy laws.

 

The imam brought a complaint against the couple last July.

 

The couple’s lawyer told the BBC he would appeal against the sentences and said the trial had not been conducted fairly.

 

Pakistan has a de facto moratorium on the death penalty so it is unlikely the couple will be executed.

 

They come from the town of Gojra in Punjab, previously the scene of communal violence.

 

In 2009 the rumoured desecration of a copy of the Koran led to a mob burning nearly 40 houses and a church in Gojra. At least eight members of Christian community died in the violence.

 

Minorities targeted

 

Since the 1990s, scores of Christians have been convicted for desecrating the Koran or blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammed.

 

While most of them have been sentenced to death by the lower courts, many sentences have been overturned due to lack of evidence.

 

Critics argue that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores and that members of minority groups are also unfairly targeted.

 

Muslims constitute a majority of those prosecuted, followed by the minority Ahmadi community.

 

In 2012 the arrest of a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, on blasphemy charges provoked international outrage. After being detained in a high security prison for several weeks she was eventually released and her family subsequently fled to Canada.

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Christian Couple in Pakistan Sentenced to Death for ‘Blasphemy’

Sentence comes eight days after second Christian handed death penalty.

 

By Our Pakistan Correspondent

April 4, 2014

Morning Star News

 

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian couple in Punjab Province incapable of writing proper Urdu was sentenced to death today for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, bringing the number of Christians on death row in Pakistan to four.

 

In a country reeling from increasing religious intolerance, the death knell for Shafqat Emmanuel and Shugufta Emmanuel sounded eight days after a court in Lahore sentenced another Christian, Sawan Masih, to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, during a drunken conversation with a Muslim friend. that made Masih the second Christian in Pakistan now on death row after a judge sentenced Christian mother Asia Bibi to death for alleged blasphemy in November 2010.

 

A court in Toba Tek Singh heard the case against Shafqat Emmanuel, 43, and his wife, a cleaner at a local missionary school and mother to four young children. They were accused of sending blasphemous text messages on June 18, 2013, to complainants Muhammad Hussain and Gojra Tehsil Bar Association President Anwar Mansoor Goraya from a number allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name.

 

The Gojra City Police in Punjab charged them with blasphemy under Sections 295-B (insulting the Koran, punishable by life imprisonment), 295-C (insulting Muhammad, punishable by death) and 25-D of The Telegraph Act of 1985. Section 25-D recommends a maximum of three years for intentionally “causing annoyance.”

 

The couple’s lawyer, Nadeem Hassan, said the judge had succumbed to Islamists’ pressure and handed down the death sentence even though there was no concrete evidence against the couple.

 

“Toba Tek Singh Additional Sessions Judge Mian Amir Habib was clearly intimidated by advocate Touqir Ashraf  and some other Islamist lawyers from Lahore who were representing the complainants,” Hassan said. “These men kept pressuring the judge during the entire trial, which was conducted in prison due to fears for the couple’s security. Even on Friday [March 28], the complainants’ lawyers kept proclaiming Koranic references calling for death to blasphemers.”

 

Prosecuting attorneys told the court they were “determined to become Ghazi Ilamdin Shaheed and Mumtaz Qadri if the judge did not convict the accused,” Hassan told Morning Star News in Lahore. Ilamdin Shaheed is revered as a hero by Muslims for killing a Hindu publisher, Mahasay Rajpal, who in 1924 published a book considered blasphemous against Muhammad. Qadri was a police guard who gunned down a top government official, Salman Taseer, because of his outspoken views on the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. Qadri has been sentenced to death but has challenged his conviction.

 

“The police failed to recover the SIM [Subscriber Identity Module] allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name from the couple’s possession,” Hassan said. “The police just produced a receipt of a cellular company on which Shagufta’s national identity card number was written against the number.”

 

He added that police had earlier claimed that Hussain’s call data had revealed that the messages had been sent from Shagufta’s cell phone number. Hassan said that during the trial, he kept demanding that the prosecution present the call data record in court, which they failed to do.

 

“During preliminary investigations, Shagufta had told the police that her cell phone had been lost for a month, and that she did not know who might have sent the alleged messages,” he said. “Nevertheless, the Gojra City Police detained the couple, along with their four minor children, and pressured them to name someone who could have sent the messages.”

 

Hassan said that in order to appease mobs led by Islamist clerics, police forced Shafqat Emmanuel, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a spinal injury, to confess that he had sent the blasphemous messages.

 

“The police tortured Shafqat to confess before a judicial magistrate, but the crippled man retracted his statement when we requested the session judge to record his statement again,” he said.

 

Shafqat’s backbone was fractured in an accident in 2004. Since then he has been paralyzed in the lower body. Since his accident, Shagufta has been the only breadwinner for the family’s four children, Ambrose, 13, Danish, 10, Sarah, 7, and Amir, 5.

 

Hassan said he would challenge the verdict in High Court once he receives a copy of the detailed verdict.

 

Biased Court

 

Farrukh Harrison of the Christian advocacy group World Vision in Progress told Morning Star News that his group had been protesting against the “court’s biased attitude” from the trial’s outset.

 

“Judge Habib simply refused to accept our submissions regarding insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution,” Harrison said. “We also moved the High Court in this regard, but our petition was referred back with a direction to the trial court to expedite the matter.”

 

Harrison lamented the fact that the judge had given death sentence to both the husband and wife even though they had forced a confession from her husband.

 

“Why was Shagufta given death sentence when the police claims that her husband had committed the act?” he said. “Isn’t this travesty of justice that a poor couple has been convicted for a motiveless crime?”

 

Harrison said the court also should have noted that in most cases of blasphemy, the accused are from poor background.

 

“The question is what could have been this couple’s motive for committing this crime in the first place,” he said. “They are uneducated, poor people whose entire life is limited to their hometown only.”

 

The activist further said that their lawyer had told the court that the couple couldn’t possibly have written the alleged texts written in Roman Urdu when they couldn’t even read or write Urdu properly.

 

“It’s only a matter of time when two other Christians accused of blasphemy [Pastor Adnan Masih, aka Adnan Prince, and Asif Pervaiz] would also be given the death sentence,” he said. “It’s a pity that all these people will have to suffer for years in prison until the High Court judges their cases on merit.”

 

At least three other cases have been registered previously against Christians based on blasphemous text messages.

 

In May 2006, Qamar David was accused of sending blasphemous text messages to various Islamic clerics in Karachi. He was convicted in February 2010 and died in prison on March 15, 2011.

 

In January 2009, Hector Aleem and Basharat Khokhar were accused of sending text messages that hurt Muslims’ religious sentiment. They were acquitted of the charge on May 31, 2011.

 

Ryan Stanton, then 16, was charged with sending blasphemous text messages in Karachi on Oct. 10, 2012. He has fled the country after the family’s home was ransacked by a violent Muslim mob.

 

At least two Muslims, Abdul Sattar and Irfan Rafique, have also been charged with sending text messages.

 

Rights groups have said that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often misused to persecute minorities and to settle personal scores. In a recent report, Amnesty International said the vague formulation of the blasphemy laws, along with inadequate investigation by authorities and intimidation by mobs and some religious groups, has promoted vigilantism across Pakistan, especially in Punjab Province.

 

Although Pakistani courts have ordered death sentences on a variety of charges, thousands of inmates have been parked on death row since a government moratorium on executions began in 2008. But since the election last year of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has publicly supported capital punishment, analysts have speculated that the government might move to hold executions.

 

Sawan Masih was sentenced by Lahore Additional District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza on March 27. The street sweeper was also fined 200,000 rupees (US$2,027). Accusations against Masih sparked the destruction of 180 Christian-owned homes and shops in Lahore’s Joseph Colony in March 2013; an anti-terrorism court freed the 133 Muslim suspects in spite of strong video evidence against them.

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Christian Couple Sentenced to Death

 

Edited by John R. Houk

Brackets indicate data added by the Editor.

 

© Shamim Masih

Special Correspondents

Daily Khabrian (PakBiz.com description) & Channel – 5

Human Rights Activist

 

Snapshot of Human Rights Activism from 2011

Christian Rights Activist
Freelance Journalist 

Secretary General of Information

Pakistan Christian Congress

 

Shamim Masih’s Donate/Support info:

 

Editor: For Americans especially, I have discovered the best way to donate to Shamim Masih is via Western Union sending to a Western Union agent in Islamabad.

 

FOR USD TRANSFER.
Intermediary Bank:                         MASHREQ BANK, NEW YORK
Intermediary Bank SWIFT BIC:         MSHQUS33
Beneficiary Bank:                         JS BANK LIMITED
Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC:                 JSBLPKKA
Bank A/c # at Intermediary bank:         70008227
Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number:                 405527

Top of Form

IBAN #                                        pk80jsbl9530000000405227

FOR GBP TRANSFER.
Intermediary Bank:                         MASHREQ BANK, LONDON
Intermediary Bank SWIFT BIC:         MSHQGB2L
Beneficiary Bank:                         JS BANK LIMITED
Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC:                 JSBLPKKA
Bank A/c # at Intermediary bank:         00010855
Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number:                 405527
IBAN #                                        pk80jsbl9530000000405227

FOR EURO TRANSFER.
Intermediary Bank:                         MASHREQ BANK, LONDON
Intermediary Bank SWIFT BIC:         MSHQGB2L
Beneficiary Bank:                         JS BANK LIMITED
Beneficiary Bank SWIFT BIC:                 JSBLPKKA
Bank A/c # at Intermediary bank:         10847
Title Of a/c                                Shamim Masih
Beneficiary Account Number:                 405527
IBAN #                                        pk80jsbl9530000000405227

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Christian couple get death sentence in blasphemy case

 

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Pakistani couple get death sentences for blasphemy

 

BBC © 2014

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Christian Couple in Pakistan Sentenced to Death for ‘Blasphemy’

 

 © 2014 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.

 

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription or to make tax-deductible donations, contact editor@morningstarnews.org, or send check to Morning Star News, 24310 Moulton Parkway, Suite O # 157, Laguna Hills, CA 92637, USA.

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