The daughter of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman being held on death row in Pakistan, has spoken out about the alleged torture her mother experienced at the hands of alleged Islamic zealots.
"My friends told me that people were torturing my mother at the fields where she used to work," Esham Masih, who was nine years old at the time, told Mail Online. "I rushed to the spot and found that she was being abused and tortured by men."
The beating allegedly began after Bibi encountered some Muslim workers in the field where they all worked. The women accused her of being unclean because of her Christian faith and later said that she made disparaging remarks against the prophet Mohammed. After the beating, Bibi was taken into custody and sentenced to be hanged. Her case has drawn international attention from Christian and women's rights organizations. more >>
International Christian Concern has expressed hopes that Christian mother of five Asia Bibi could see her death sentence overturned by Pakistan's Supreme Court, despite pressure on judges from radical groups that are determined to see her executed.
"I think the chances of the Supreme Court overturning the death sentence are much greater than that of the High Court. In many cases, especially blasphemy cases, court decisions are influenced, either by ideology or threats, by local radical groups. Generally, the High Court is more insulated from this influence," William Stark, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia, told The Christian Post in an email on Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, in Asia's case, she is very high profile and the radical groups tracking her case and advocating for her death have already shown what they are willing to do to keep Asia's death sentence confirmed. Shabaz Bhatti, a federal government minister, and Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, were murdered for speaking out against the blasphemy charge against Asia," Stark continued. more >>
Pakistan is a perennial recipient of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. It's an occasional ally/frequent enemy, sometimes actively conspiring against U.S. interests, sometimes actually firing on U.S. troops (incidents so notorious they now have their own Wikipedia page), and — of course — it's the home of increasingly virulent jihadist extremism. And, no, this extremism isn't confined to the fringes of Pakistani society but is sometimes even manifested in its appellate courts.
Last week, a Pakistani court of appeals upheld Asia Bibi's death sentence for blasphemy. She's a Christian and a mother of five.
Death. For allegedly saying bad things about Mohammed. more >>
American citizen Jeffrey Fowle was freed by North Korea on Tuesday, after having been arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a sailor's club in the city of Chongjin. While Fowle is to be flown home to his family in Ohio, the White House has urged the two other American citizens held by North Korea to be released as well.
"While this is a positive decision ... we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Fowle, a 56-year-old street repair worker from Miamisburg, Ohio, was accused by the North Korean government of religious proselytizing, which is considered a serious offense in the Pacific nation. more >>
A group working to protect Christians from blasphemy laws has said that international pressure on Pakistan is needed to overturn the death penalty handed to Christian mother of five Asia Bibi. Christian leaders in Pakistan have vowed to continue appealing the case and fighting for the mother's life.
"We continue to hope because, as Christians, our faith nourishes hope. We continue to pray for Asia Bibi and for her release, so that the Lord protects and comforts her. But there are many elements that are not conducive to optimism," said Haroon Barkat, director of the Masihi Foundation, in an interview with Fides News Agency on Tuesday.
Barkat, whose group works in Pakistan to protect Christians falsely accused of blasphemy, added that "international pressures and mobilization can be useful" in influencing the case. He said that above all, "the political will of the government and of the highest authorities in Pakistan is needed" to put an end to the many false blasphemy cases where Christians in Pakistan are persecuted. more >>
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party." more >>