Christians and civil society groups got together for candlelight vigils in Pakistan's major cities Friday to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of the country's Christian federal minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, who bravely spoke against the repressive blasphemy laws.
At vigils in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, Christian leaders and social activists carried placards and shouted slogans condemning 42-year-old Bhatti's murder a year ago and religiously motivated violence that continues to plague the country, local media reported.
Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in the country's cabinet, was shot to death by suspected Islamist terrorists on March 2 last year while he was on his way to a government meeting in Islamabad. The pamphlets found near the assassination scene bore the name of the terror outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab and stated, "Anyone who criticizes the blasphemy law has no right to live." more >>
Two copies of an English version of the Holy Bible were found in the building where Osama bin Laden spent his last days and was killed by U.S. forces, Pakistani officials revealed on Tuesday night.
The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leader was shot dead by U.S. Navy SEALs last May, is being demolished this week. A number of interesting discoveries have been made among the rubble, however.
Among them are cleverly hidden radios and two copies of the Bible, but different theories exist about why the extremist Islamic leader, who waged a holy war against the U.S., would have Bibles in his possession. Certain passages have apparently been highlighted in different colors, leading some Pakistani intelligence officials to believe that they might be coded messages referencing future terror attacks, The Times of India reported. Pakistan's ISI security service is conducting further investigations on the texts in question. more >>
An enormous whale shark has washed ashore in Pakistan.
The 40-foot long shark washed ashore in Karachi, Pakistan, and was lifted from the ground by three cranes. Local residents then bid on the shark, which fetched a price of over $18,000. The shark was spotted unconscious in the water 10 days ago, and fishermen waited until it was closer before attempting to move the fish.
According to National Geographic, whale sharks are human-friendly, feasting primarily on plankton and small fish found in the weeds. "Although massive, whale sharks are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to hitch a ride," notes National Geographic. more >>
A Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death has successfully appealed a court's ruling, just as a petition demanding her release has reached over 500,000 signatures.
Asia Noreen Bibi, whose case has received global interest, including that of Pope Benedict XVI, was sentenced to death by hanging in 2011 after spending more than a year in a Pakistani prison.
Asia Bibi, a wife and mother, is accused of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad by Muslim witnesses, which she has denied. more >>
A Pakistani man who was mistaken by his country’s court as being Jewish has become subject to arrest, death threats and alienation from his community.
Jew Jurian is a Pakistani Christian from the city of Lahore, Pakistan, who was accused of blasphemy when he wrote his name on a national identity card form. The Computerized National Identity Cards mistakenly declared Jurian as a Jewish man because of his first name, subjecting him to arrest and death threats.
Jurian was released by police in May 2003, but he and his family still face death threats, according to an Express Tribune report. He was released with two other men who were later killed by religious extremists. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – A young man has been charged with desecrating the Quran under Pakistan’s controversial “blasphemy” laws after the Christian had an argument over rent with his Muslim landlord, his attorneys said.
Police in Shahdara Town, near Lahore, arrested Khuram Masih, 23, on Dec. 5 and charged him under Section 295-B after his landlord, Zulfiqar Ali, accused him of burning pages of the Quran in order to prepare tea, the attorneys said. Section 295-B makes willful desecration of the Quran or use of an extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment.
Masih told his attorneys he was falsely accused because he had had an argument with Ali earlier in the day over the rent of the house in which he and his wife, Bano, a convert from Hinduism, have been living along with five other families in recent months. more >>