ISTANBUL, Turkey – Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws can put even children at risk, and Christians say the days when they could teach their offspring pat answers to protect them from accusations of disparaging Islam or its prophet seem to have passed.
A 30-year-old Pakistani woman who grew up in Lahore said her Christian parents taught her formula answers to keep from falling prey to accusations under the blasphemy statutes, such as “I am a Christian, I can only tell you about Him.” But even then, before radical Islamists began influencing Pakistani society as they have in recent years, schoolchildren were taught not to discuss religion, she said.
“We knew never to get into religious discussions with others,” she said. “We had them at home – our parents would put us through the drill of asking us tough questions to see how we answered. Only now I realize that was practice for school.” more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – On Monday morning, Pakistan suddenly found itself between a rock and a hard place when U.S. President Barack Obama broke the news of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden’s killing in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan. "Justice has been done," the U.S. president said Sunday night in a televised statement that Americans had been waiting a decade to hear.
The fact that bin Laden was killed just a few hundred meters away from Pakistan’s main military academy raises questions about how the six-foot-four fugitive, one of the most famous faces in the world, managed to survive there for so long despite denials by the country’s military and political leadership that the al-Qaida supreme leader was present on Pakistani soil.
The incident is also most likely to unleash a flurry of violence in Pakistan by angry Islamist militants and al-Qaida sympathizers to whom bin Laden was a great hero, and now an even greater martyr. Pakistan is already reeling from various serious crises and the incident is bound to bring more bloodshed to the country which has already lost thousands of lives to terrorism. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan (Compass Direct News) – Hundreds of Muslims in Gujranwala on Saturday attacked Christians’ homes, a school and a Presbyterian church building after learning that police had released two Christians accused of “blasphemy” – amid reports of another alleged desecration of the Quran.
Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq were released on Friday afternoon after a handwriting expert hired by police determined that the latter had not written a threatening note accompanying burned pages of the Quran, police sources said. The two Christians, who had been taken into protective custody on April 15, were relocated along with family members to an undisclosed location soon after their release.
At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, however, as news of their release spread, a Muslim claimed that pages of the Quran had been burned anew in Gujranwala’s Aziz Colony cemetery in Punjab Province, according to retired Maj. Timothy Nasir, head of Faith Theological Seminary in Gujranwala. He said announcements over area mosque loudspeakers began blaring, and Muslim residents and members of extremist groups began gathering. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan’s Faisalabad district on Monday sentenced to death a Muslim man who had gunned down two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy on July 7 last year. The court also imposed a fine of $47,784 on the convict.
Maqsood alias Soodi was convicted of killing the Rev. Rashid Emmanuel, 32, and his 30-year-old brother, Sajid Emmanuel, and injuring police inspector Mohammad Hussain.
The convict was also sentenced to 10-year imprisonment each under Section 7-C of the Anti-Terrorism Act and 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code and a fine of $2380. Under Section 337-D, he will pay $5,950 compensation to the injured inspector and serve a 10-year term. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – A Christian illegally detained in Faisalabad on false blasphemy charges was freed Sunday, while two other Christians in Gujranwala arrested on similar charges on Friday (April 15) were also released – until pressure from irate mullahs led police to detain them anew, sources said.
Masih and his family have relocated to a safe area, but just 10 days after he was falsely accused of desecrating the Quran in Faisalabad district of Punjab Province on April 5, in Gujranwala Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq were taken into “protective custody” on charges that the younger man had desecrated Islam’s holy book and blasphemed the religion’s prophet, Muhammad. A police official told Compass the charges were false.
Gill, an administrative employee of the Christian Technical Training Centre (CTTC) in Gujranwala in his late 60s, was resting when a Muslim mob gathered outside his home in Aziz Colony, Jinnah Road, Gujranwala, and began shouting slogans against the family. They accused his son, a business graduate working in the National Bank of Pakistan as a welfare officer and father of a little girl, of desecrating the Quran and blaspheming Muhammad. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – Police in Punjab Province, Pakistan have illegally detained a Christian on a “blasphemy” accusation, even though one officer said he was certain an area Muslim falsely accused 40-year-old Arif Masih because of a property dispute.
On April 5, Shahid Yousuf Bajwa, Masih’s next-door neighbor, initially filed a First Information Report (FIR) against “an unidentified person” for desecrating the Quran after finding threatening letters and pages with quranic verses on the street outside his home in Village 129 RB-Tibbi, Chak Jhumra, Faisalabad district. Desecrating the Quran under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
“Some identified person has desecrated the Holy Quran and has tried to incite sentiments of the Muslims,” Bajwa wrote in the FIR. Clearly stating that he did not know who had done it, he wrote, “It is my humble submission to the higher authorities that those found guilty must be given exemplary punishment.” more >>