Three Muslims convicted of killing a Christian in Pakistan’s Punjab Province for refusing to convert to Islam last year have been given life sentences, according to attorneys for the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) in Pakistan.
The Sessions Court in Mian Channu on July 7 convicted Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem of torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March 9, 2010, and sentenced them to life in prison, which in Pakistan is 25 years. The court also ordered each convict to pay 100,000 rupees (US$1,153) to Masih’s family. A fourth suspect, Muhammad Asif, was acquitted.
“The ECLJ also plans to file an appeal in the Lahore High Court concerning the acquittal of the fourth defendant,” said Asif Aqeel, director of the Lahore-based, ECLJ-supported Community Development Initiative. “The callous treatment by the police presented lots of challenges in proving that Masih was killed by the defendants. However, extensive work by our legal team in Pakistan and in the United States resulted in a conviction for the three defendants in this case.” more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan– The often unseen or unrecognized abuses suffered by Christians at Pakistan’s lowest level of society – street sweepers – have come into sharp focus this year.
While one Christian sanitation worker in Lahore has been suspended and criminal charges filed against him for objecting to discrimination against fellow workers, another was killed the same month for not tending to a shopkeeper’s command fast enough.
Anayat Masih Sahotra, who has worked as a street sweeper for Lahore’s Solid Waste Management (SWM) department for 24 years, said he is facing baseless charges of forgery and fraud from his employers because of his work as a labor leader for area sweepers, who are nearly all Christians. He was suspended and accused of the crimes on May 14 after he asked SWM Managing Director Wasim Ajmal Chaudhry to fulfill a promise to make 400 Christian workers regular employees with full benefits, he said. more >>
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – An investigation into the assassination of a Christian Pakistani government minister who criticized the country's rigid Islamic blasphemy law is on "the right track," his brother said on Thursday.
Shahbaz Bhatti, assassinated in March, was Pakistan's minister for minorities' affairs and campaigned for the rights of Christians before he was gunned down in Islamabad – apparently by Islamist extremists.
"The investigations into the homicide of my brother are finally on the right track," Paul Bhatti, currently an adviser to Pakistan's government on religious minorities told the Catholic Fides news agency. more >>
The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien has called for a change to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which have recently been cited as the cause of numerous attacks on Christians.
He has expressed his support last week for a petition by “Aid to the Church in Need” calling for a change in Pakistan’s laws.
According to ICN Cardinal O’Brien said, “I have been aware of the persecution of Christians and those of other faiths in Pakistan and I am only too happy to endorse this petition.” more >>
The arrest of alleged CIA informants by the Pakistan’s military shows that the civilian government and the armed forces of that country are two separate entities, military affairs analyst Sebastian Gorka said.
The recent arrest of five Pakistani army personnel for allegedly passing on information to the CIA concerning the compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding before his death is “a wonderful example of why one cannot talk of Pakistan as a unitary nation,” Gorka, a senior military affairs fellow at the policy institute Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said during an interview with Radio Free Europe Thursday.
The prevailing notion among Americans, that Pakistan either knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts but did not share the information with the CIA or it did not know and is therefore incompetent, shows a serious misunderstanding of the reality in today’s Pakistan, he said. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – At least 10 Christian families in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab Province have fled their homes after a throng of area Muslims accused a Christian of blaspheming Islam on Friday (June 10).
Yousaf Masih of village No. 68 AR Farmwala, in Khanewal district’s Mian Channu area, told Compass that his brother Yaqub’s grandson, 8-year-old Ihtesham (also known as Sunny), had gone out to fetch ice when Muslim boys from a nearby religious school started harassing him.
“The Muslim boys asked Sunny to recite the Kalma Tayyaba, Islam’s foremost proclamation of Muhammad as prophet, and become a Muslim, and only then would he be allowed to go home,” Masih said. “Sunny refused to repeat the Arabic verse, which infuriated the Muslim boys, and they started beating him up.” more >>