Christian and human rights activists have hailed Pakistan's Supreme Court decision that the nation's notorious blasphemy laws, which have been used to target religious minorities, can be reformed.
"The court's judgment has provided hope to many that Pakistan may actually be able to reform its notorious blasphemy law. For many years, reform to the blasphemy laws was thought to be impossible because of the influence and fear of religious extremist groups in Pakistan. This recent judgement has opened the door for reform," said International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark.
"Now, Pakistan as a society must take the next steps to walk through it. Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan have historically suffered under the country's blasphemy laws. Disproportionately accused and convicted with little to no evidence, the call for adequate safeguards against false accusations is truly a step in the right direction," Stark added. more >>
A Christian Pakistani woman was set on fire and nearly burned to death in Punjab province after she refused to marry her former boyfriend. The crime took place just weeks after another Christian woman was abducted, forced to marry a Muslim man and convert to Islam.
As the mistreatment of women and religious minorities in Pakistan continue to be the biggest human rights concern in the nation, AFP reported last week that 20-year-old Sonia Bibi was nearly burned to death by her disgruntled ex-boyfriend, Latif Ahmed, in the town of Multan.
After Ahmed asked Bibi to marry him and she refused his proposal, Ahmed covered Bibi with gasoline and set her ablaze. After being taken to Nishtar hospital in Multan, a doctor told AFP that 45 to 50 percent of Bibi's body was covered in burns. Despite having half of her body severely burned, Bibi is expected to survive. more >>
Policing authorities in the town of Sargodha in the Punjab province of Pakistan have arrested and charged a Christian man known healing the sick with allegedly committing the crime of blasphemy.
According to the British Pakistani Christian Association, Naveed John, a Christian resident from the Maryam Colony in Sargodha, was arrested on Oct. 8 and has been languishing in prison since his arrest.
The humanitarian agency's report states that John was arrested after police officers found a sword in his room that featured verses from the Quran inscribed into the blade. Family members told BPCA that police officials have demanded that they pay a bribe if they want John to be released. more >>
A Pakistani Christian man and his family were forced to flee from their home to escape the wrath of an enraged Muslim mob after he was accused of blasphemy during an altercation over water with a group of Muslim men.
According to the British Pakistani Christian Association, the accused Christian man, 40-year-old Aftab Gill and his family from the Wazirabad area of Punjab province, regularly collected their home's water supply from the local mosque's tap — just like many others in the community.
As the mosque's water tap is the only real clean supply available to the community, Gill, who cares for his five children, was drawing water on Aug. 14 when he was told by a Muslim man that Christians were not allowed to draw from the tap unless they accepted Islam. more >>
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has upheld the death sentence of a security guard who assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for publicly speaking against the country's draconian blasphemy laws on behalf of a Christian woman.
The Pakistan's apex court has dismissed an appeal to revoke convict Mumtaz Qadri's death sentence, according to that country's newspaper, The Express Tribune.
The court also retained terrorism charges on Qadri which were dropped by a lower court. more >>
More than a thousand Pakistani Christians and church leaders in Lahore gathered outside of Punjab's legislative assembly on Wednesday to demand that the province's legislature throw out a proposed amendment that they beleive is designed to strip voting rights from religious minorities, women and workers in local elections.
According to UCA News, the proposed amendment would alter the electoral system so that women, religious minorities, and workers would not be able to vote for their representatives in their municipal councils.
Instead of voting for their own representatives who are legally allotted to their respective social classes, the amendment would give council members from the majority party the right to select the council's two female members, a non-Muslim member and representatives for workers and youth. more >>