The death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children, was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi has been convicted of blasphemy for drinking from the same bowl of water as Muslims and making derogatory comments about the prophet Muhammad.
"The case against Asia Bibi is a great example of how Christians and other religious minorities are abused in Pakistan by fundamentalists wielding the controversial blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws were originally written to protect against religious intolerance in Pakistan, but the law has warped into a tool used by extremists and others to settle personal scores and persecute Pakistan's vulnerable religious minorities," said International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark.
"Sadly, the vast majority of blasphemy accusations brought against Christians and others are false. Unfortunately, pressure from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan has transformed trial courts and now appeals courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case." more >>
A Christian pastor accused of blasphemy was shot dead by police in a Pakistani jail in Rawalpindi. A persecution watchdog group has said this is the latest incident of blasphemy laws being used to commit human rights violations.
"This is a barbaric act," Xavier Williams of Life for All told The Express Tribune. "There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti's safety."
Zafar Bhatti had been imprisoned at Adiyala jail since 2012, The Express Tribune reported. His 70-year-old cellmate, Muhammad Asghar, who has a history of mental illness, was wounded in the shooting attack. Asghar has also been accused of blasphemy in the heavily Muslim country. The men had been receiving death threats both from guards and fellow prisoners. more >>
The minority Christian community in Pakistan is said to be outraged following the rape of a 12-year-old Christian girl in Lahore by two Muslim men. Christian advocates have said Muslims often use sexual violence as a means of controlling the Christian population, especially women and girls.
"In Pakistan rape is used as an instrument of arbitrary power over Christian girls, who come from poor and marginalized families. It is a form of violence that wants to reiterate the submission to Muslims. The rest of society is not outraged because the victims mostly belong to religious minorities, who are the most vulnerable. Rarely rapists are punished," Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill told Fides News Agency.
"Furthermore, rape victims face terrible difficulties; they do not receive adequate medical treatment for sexual assault. Many girls are traumatized and become depressed and in need of psychological assistance," Gill added. more >>
A mob in Pakistan has reportedly killed a mother and two of her granddaughters over a Facebook post that was deemed "blasphemous" to the Islamic religion.
A 600-person mob attacked the local Ahmadi sect in Gujranwala, located about 140 miles southeast of Islamabad, setting fire to five homes and several shops. Ultimately, the mob killed an Ahmadi woman in her 40's and her two grandchildren, ages eight and 7-months old.
The three females were killed after an Ahmadi man, 25-year-old Aqib Salim, reportedly posted a "blasphemous" and "objectionable" image to his Facebook that showed the Islamic holy site Kaaba next to a woman wearing minimal clothing. The Ahmadi sect of people have been denounced as "non-Muslim" because they believe that a second prophet came after Mohamed. While the Pakistani government has denounced the sect as "non-Muslim," Ahmadis still consider themselves to be of the Islamic religion. more >>
An 18-year-old Pakistani woman survived being shot twice and thrown in a canal by her family in an attempted honor killing for marrying the man that she loved.
"It is an honor-related incident," local police chief Ali Akbar told Reuters.
"The victim, Saba [Maqsood] ... married her neighbor Muhammad Qaiser for love five days ago against the wishes of her family. They took her to Hafizabad, shot her twice and threw her in the canal after putting her in a sack, presuming that she was dead." more >>
The husband of a pregnant woman recently stoned to death in Pakistan recently admitted to murdering his first wife.
Mohammad Iqbal, husband to 25-year-old Farzana Parveen, admitted in a recent interview that he had murdered his first wife six years ago in order to marry Parveen. Parveen was recently stoned to death by members of her family when she refused to comply with an arranged marriage, going against her family's orders and instead marrying Iqbal. She was three months pregnant when she was stoned on Tuesday.
"I wanted to send a proposal to Farzana, so I killed my wife," Iqbal told CNN in an interview Thursday. Iqbal's son, who is now in his twenties, was reportedly the first to alert authorities when his mother was murdered six years ago. His father reportedly served one year in jail before being released because his son forgave him, an aspect of Pakistani law. more >>