Asia Noreen Bibi, the first Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010, thanked Pope Francis and all the churches praying for her and credited them with her survival after four-and-a-half years in prison.
"I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom. If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me," Bibi wrote in a Christmas letter to Pope Francis. While Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010, the verdict must be upheld by a superior court, and many petitions have protested her imprisonment.
Bibi lamented the fact that, while many people have spoken and fought for her, it is "to no avail." Even though she is still in prison, she said, "I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible." Bibi wrote that in her dire situation, "Only God will be able to free me." more >>
The issue of Pakistan's blasphemy laws has always been alive in the public discourse and an attraction for the media not only in Pakistan, but internationally, too. Now it will be reverberating even more around the corridors of power after the Federal Sharia Court of Pakistan ordered the Pakistani government to remove the option of life imprisonment for blasphemy. This means that crimes of blasphemy should be punished exclusively by the death sentence.
The court, which has the power to determine whether any law is unislamic, reasons that any punishment other than death for blasphemy is not lawful. This was the conclusion of a five-member bench headed by Justice Fida Hussain, which was formed to explore this question after a contempt of court petition was filed by lawyer Hashmat Habib on December 4. The bench based this conclusion on a previous decision by the court in 1990 determining that life imprisonment should be deleted on the grounds that any blasphemy act is not acceptable and the blasphemer is liable to be punished by death.
Habib's complaint was that the 1990 decision had not been implemented and so the court should now issue orders to rectify this, as well as initiate court proceedings against those who have hitherto failed to implement the decision. Coincidentally it was Ismail Qureshi, another lawyer and writer of the book, Blasphemy law (Urdu language), who submitted a petition to the court to remove the alternative punishment of life imprisonment. The court ruled in October 1990 that the alternative punishment should be deleted as it was repugnant to Islam and the government was directed to add a provision to the effect that any act of blasphemy upon other prophets should also be punishable with death. more >>
A British doctor in Pakistan was arrested and charged for allegedly "posing as a Muslim" after he was videotaped reading aloud from the Quran.
Masood Ahmad, a British doctor running a clinic in the eastern city of Lahore, was arrested last month after two men secretly videotaped him reading aloud verses from the Quran. The men had pretended to be sick and visited the clinic. After receiving their medication, they asked Ahmad to tell them about his religious beliefs as a member of the minority Ahmadi sect.
Members of the minority Ahmadi sect in Pakistan face widespread discrimination as they are considered under the country's constitution to be non-Muslims. This is because members of the Ahmadi sect consider the religion's founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to be a prophet, which contradicts the main teaching of Islam that Muhammad was the last prophet. more >>
A young Pakistani girl was raped, buried alive, and yet survived the whole ordeal. The young girl regained consciousness while underground and dug herself to freedom.
The 13-year-old girl was walking to Koran lessons in the Punjab province of Pakistan when she was abducted by two men, the New York Post reported. The men took her to a private place where both raped and attacked her. It seems that, thinking she had died during the attack, the two men buried her.
The girl was able to dig her way out of the shallow grave in a miraculous act of survival. She then attracted spectator attention and got help. Amazingly, she survived the ordeal. more >>
A Protestant Christian pastor and two laymen have been accused and charged with blasphemy in Lahore, Pakistan, allegedly for writing derogatory remarks about Islam.
"The complaint was filed by the Muslim Abid Mehmood accusing the three of having written and pronounced derogatory remarks about Islam talking about the text 'Why have we become Muslims,' written by Maulana Ameer Hamza one of the most important leaders of the Pakistani extremist organization 'Jamaat -ud- Dawah,'" Fides News Agency wrote in a report on Thursday.
The pastor, identified as Adnan Masih by Catholic World News, has been charged along with Irfan Masih, his brother, and Mushtaq Masih, the owner of the bookstore in which the alleged blasphemy took place. more >>
A Pakistani bishop has claimed that the United State's drone strike campaign against the Taliban has inflamed the relationship between Islamists and Pakistan's Christians by drawing the minority religious community "into global politics."
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi asserted that in the terrorists' perception, "The whole West — Europe or America — are all Christians."