A Christian woman in Pakistan has claimed that she was handed a death sentence simply because she was "thirsty." The mother of five, who is currently in prison on death row, was sentenced to death by hanging in 2009 after being accused of blasphemy – a charge she adamantly denies. She has now released her memoir, "Blasphemy," from prison where she tells her shocking side of the story.
Asia Bibi's case has gained widespread international media attention since she was arrested four years ago on blasphemy charges while working as a fruit-picker in the northeastern area of Pakistan. Bibi co-wrote Blasphemy with French television journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. The book details her struggles as a Christian in a predominately Muslim land, including her arrest and sentencing to death. Although the book was released in France in 2011, media outlets have recently released excerpts from the book to keep the memory of Bibi's hardship alive, and a new wave of media attention has been drawn to Bibi's case.
Bibi's imprisonment began shortly after July 2009; she was picking fruit in the northeastern area of Pakistan to make extra income for her husband and five children when her life changed forever. Temperatures in the fruit field reached above a sweltering 100 degrees, and Bibi, parched, chose to drink out of the communal well shared with other female-fruit pickers, all of whom were Muslim. The Muslim women objected to Bibi, a Christian, drinking out of the same metal cup as them, arguing that it was "haram," or the Islamic term for anything forbidden by God. more >>
A Pakistani Court has acquitted a Muslim cleric accused of framing a mentally-challenged Christian girl of violating the country's blasphemy laws. Cleric, Khalid Jadoon, was freed after six of eight eyewitnesses, who had testified to seeing him plant evidence on the girl, suddenly retracted their statements.
Last August, teenager Rimsha Masih was arrested for breaking Pakistan's blasphemy laws, after she was accused of burning pages of the Quran. As international criticism grew over her arrest, evidence mounted that Jadoon had deliberately inserted pages of the Quran into the fire himself so that he could accuse the Christian girl of blasphemy and use the charge as a pretext to drive out Christians from the area.
Masih was ultimately acquitted of blasphemy chargers in November, but her family was forced to take asylum in Canada in March. more >>
A court in Pakistan's Punjab province has sentenced a Christian man to life imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 for sending blasphemous text messages to Muslim clerics to seek revenge from his ex-fiancée.
A 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.
Masih, a resident of Punjab's Pakpattan district, was arrested in December 2011. more >>
The government of Canada helped a Christian girl from Pakistan, who was falsely accused of burning the Quran last year and forced into hiding, to flee her country and settle with her parents in the North American nation due to concerns for her safety, a Canadian TV channel reported Saturday.
Toronto-based CTV News quoted Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney as saying he personally intervened to help Rimsha Masih, who was arrested last August after being falsely accused of desecrating Islam's holy book. She was also charged with throwing the religious book in garbage after putting it in a plastic bag.
Rimsha and her family fled to Canada in March amid concerns for their safety in the highly restive country plagued by terror and religious extremism. more >>
The Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan held a meeting on May 29, headed by Maulana Sherani, and warned that if the blasphemy laws are amended, the country's minorities will be unsafe, but how much worse could the situation get?
Minorities have been suffering since these laws were introduced by General Zia Ul Haq in 1986. Why is the council only now expressing concern about this? As if it had not noticed all the bloodshed and cries of the religious minorities for help over the last three decades. They need to wake up and take a good look at what is happening across Pakistan on a virtually daily basis. Bloodshed in the name of religion is happening all the time. Attacks on churches and the torching of Christian villages happen so often that the question believers ask themselves is not if it will happen again, but when. And, yes, the stories they must surely have heard of innocent people being burned alive are also true. If the council really has not been aware of all these human rights abuses then that is worrisome indeed.
Perhaps the council has been so busy working to make Pakistan a pure Islamic state, something that has been the agenda for a few religious political organisations since Pakistan came into being. The founder of Pakistan clearly condemned any idea of a theocratic state. What will happen to the guarantee given to the religious minorities by Quaid E Azam that citizens will be equal and religion will have nothing to do with the state? What will happen to his famous speech of Aug. 11, 1947 to the constituent assembly and all those media interviews where he reiterated assurances to the minorities? Will they just be thrown away and forgotten in history? And what of the hadiths, like the killing of one person being equal to the killing of all mankind? more >>
Five years later, Kainat Soomro, an 18-year-old Pakistani woman, is still seeking justice for a violent gang rape committed against her involving four men when she was barely a teen.
Soomro says she was kidnapped, drugged, and raped by four men when she was 13. She claims she was raped in a shop owned by Shaban Shaikh, one of the accused. The men, led by Habib-Ullah Shaikh, Shaban's uncle, argued in court that she eloped with one of them, Ahsan Thebo. more >>