Posts tagged ‘Religious persecution’

August 31, 2011

Appeal to HRW, Amnesty, HRCP : Don’t ignore or misrepresent silent Shia genocide in Pakistan

by AZ

This is our appeal to international directors of all human rights organizations including but not limited to

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December 28, 2010

Pakistani Hindu families seek political asylum in India

by admin

According to the report published in various national ‘Dailies’ and in international media with regard to the Pakistani Hindu families seek asylum in India. The Times of India report says Kidnapping, killing force Pak Hindus to seek political asylum in India. The Hindu says In the latest incident in that country targeting minorities, an abducted elderly spiritual leader is still untraced.

Ravaged by attacks and extortion, dozens of Hindu families from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province have sought political asylum at Islamabad’s Indian High Commission , a senior official said.

‘‘ As many as 27 families have sent their applications to the high commission,’’ Pakistan human rights ministry’s regional director Saeed Ahmed Khan said in Quetta on Sunday. Khan said Hindus have been living in Baluchistan for centuries, but many have been forced to flee due to kidnapping of several members of the community.

The province’s Hindus took to streets in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki towns and blocked a highway linking it to Karachi to protest their spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji’s kidnapping along with four companions — Sajan Das, Ram Chand , Babo Lal and Venod Kumar — last week. The 82-year-old leader heads Qalat’s Kali Mandir.

Baluch Trouble

Protests rage in Baluchistan as spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji kidnapped along with 4 companions Hindu families in region say kidnapping and extortion have become routine, allege that cops support kidnappers
Kidnappers backed by police, says leader

The kidnappers later released three of Garji’s companions. Sajan Das said the kidnappers blindfolded and tied their hands before dropping them off at a deserted place.

Baluchistan DIG Hamid Shakil said around 78 groups of criminals operate in the province. ‘‘ These gangs are mostly responsible for kidnapping for ransom and target killing,’’ he said.

Addressing the protesters outside Khuzdar Press Club, a community leader said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the minority, particularly those belonging to the minority community. ‘‘ The incidents of kidnapping had become routine and it seems that the gangsters have been given a free hand,’’ he said. He alleged that police and other law enforcement agencies were supporting the kidnappers .

Baluchistan chief minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani said he has directed the cops to secure Garji’s release at the earliest. ‘‘ I believe it’s an incident of kidnapping for ransom and doesn’t have any religious overtones,’’ Raisani said.

Pakistan has a Hindu population of about 25 lakh and of these Baluchistan has about 40,000. Like Hindus in Sindh, most Hindus there work as traders and small businessmen. They speak the local dialect and follow local tribal customs.

Slain tribal chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti , who led a separatist movement in the province, awarded the tribal name of Bugti to Hindus living in his area. He also got a local Hindu leader, Arjun Dass Bugti, elected as the province’s deputy speaker.(Source)

In Pakistan, to be a minority is a curse ?

Pakistan, which does not let go of any opportunity to heckle India on perceived human rights violations, stands exposed as at least 27 Hindu families from Balochistan have approached the Indian High Commission in Islamabad seeking political asylum in this country. The drastic step taken by the Hindus, who have been living in the Province for centuries, shows their miserable plight and that they can no longer live in fear of abduction for ransom, armed robberies and murder. When a Pakistani official — Regional Director for the Federal Ministry of Human Rights Saeed Ahmed Khan — expresses great concern and urges the Pakistani Government to take immediate measures to improve the law and order situation, it serves to underscore that it has failed miserably in its duty to protect the religious minorities from growing Islamist violence. Most important, the Pakistani Government cannot even term it as a false allegation because statistics of its Ministry of Human Rights reveals an alarming rise in the cases of human rights violation in Balochistan. The situation in Sind, where 95 per cent of the Hindus in Pakistan live, is worse. A BBC report, published earlier this year, has cited several cases of abduction, torture, rape and murder to show how Hindus face an uncertain future in Pakistan due to its Government’s failure to take action against Islamic groups hostile to minorities.

Hindus in Pakistan seeking asylum in India is a stark reminder that minority Hindus continue to suffer apartheid in that country despite Gen Pervez Musharraf abolishing the separate electorate system as no political party fights for their cause or respects their aspirations. Therefore, it is extremely galling to see Pakistani leaders taking the moral high ground and indulging in self-righteous rhetoric — both Houses of Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted resolutions in September condemning the ‘violence’ against Kashmiri people to ‘sensitise’ the international community — when discriminatory laws in their own land foster intolerance and compel the oppressed to suffer in silence. Certainly, it is the prerogative of every sovereign state to legislate the laws of its land, but at the same time, it does not merit reiteration that every Government is bound by its responsibility to protect the weak and the vulnerable. Pakistan has relentlessly pursued the Kashmir issue on every conceivable international forum, brazenly accusing India of imagined atrocities. But today, it stands accused of charges it levels against others. Its not Hindus alone who suffer indignity and worse in Pakistan; Christians are treated like criminals and charges of blasphemy are levelled against them on the flimsiest of excuses. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is anything but a republic; it’s a hell for minorities.

بلوچستان سے ہندو خاندانوں کی ہجرت

بلوچستان میں انسانی حقوق کے ڈایکٹر نے کہا ہے کہ عدم تحفظ کی وجہ سے ہندوبرادری کے بہت سے لوگ مجبوراً ہجرت کرکے ہندوستان جاچکے ہیں

ہندو برادری نے اغوا برائے تاوان کی بڑھتی ہو وارداتوں پر سخت پریشانی کا اظہار کیا ہے

دوسری جانب ہندوبرادری نے ایک ہفتہ قبل اغواء ہونے والے ہندومذہبی پیشواکی فوری بازیابی کا مطالبہ کیا ہے۔ جبکہ پیرکو جعفرآباد سے نامعلوم افراد نےہندومذہب سے تعلق رکھنے والے ایک اور سب انجینئر کو اغواء کرلیا ہے ۔

کوئٹہ سے بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار ایوب ترین کے مطابق پیر کے روز بلوچستان کے ضلع جعفرآباد میں بعض نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے ہندو مذھب سے تعلق رکھنے والے سابق مقامی صحافی اور محکمہ ایریگیشن کے سب انجینئر نانک رام کو اغواء کرلیا ہے۔ مقامی پولیس نے مقدمہ درج کرلیاہے لیکن تاحال انکا سراغ نہیں لگاسکی ہے

دوسری جانب ایک ہفتہ قبل قلات میں اغواء ہونے والے قدیم ہندومندرکےمہاراج اور ہندو مذہبی پیشوا حسین لکھ میر اور انکا ساتھی ونود کمار کی بازیابی ابھی تک ممکن نہیں ہوسکی ہے۔
دوسری جانب ہندوبرادری نے ایک ہفتہ قبل اغواء ہونے والے ہندومذہبی پیشواکی فوری بازیابی کا مطالبہ کیا ہے۔ جبکہ پیرکو جعفرآباد سے نامعلوم افراد نےہندومذہب سے تعلق رکھنے والے ایک اور سب انجینئر کو اغواء کرلیا ہے ۔

کوئٹہ سے بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار ایوب ترین کے مطابق پیر کے روز بلوچستان کے ضلع جعفرآباد میں بعض نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے ہندو مذھب سے تعلق رکھنے والے سابق مقامی صحافی اور محکمہ ایریگیشن کے سب انجینئر نانک رام کو اغواء کرلیا ہے۔ مقامی پولیس نے مقدمہ درج کرلیاہے لیکن تاحال انکا سراغ نہیں لگاسکی ہے

دوسری جانب ایک ہفتہ قبل قلات میں اغواء ہونے والے قدیم ہندومندرکےمہاراج اور ہندو مذہبی پیشوا حسین لکھ میر اور انکا ساتھی ونود کمار کی بازیابی ابھی تک ممکن نہیں ہوسکی ہے۔

Source: BBC Urdu

December 21, 2010

Christians will observe Christmas as a 'protest day', Sandul prays for Aasia Bibi

by admin

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that his government would not allow the blasphemy law to be used for the settling personal scores. “The government,” he insisted, “will take all appropriate measures, whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop growing incidents of misuse of the blasphemy law”.

A number of Pakistani Christian organizations have decided that they will observe Christmas as a Protest Day. The decision has been made in All Pakistan Christian Parties Conference, the Christians’ will also host black flags on their residences and business houses against the blasphemy laws and enormities toward minorities. According to a report published in the BBC Urdu human rights activists expressed fear of security risk attached with newly formed alliance of radical religious parties and it’s life threatening warning of anarchy if the civilian government attempts to repeal the nation’s strict blasphemy law and pardon Asia Bibi. The leaders of the All Christian Parties Conference have decided to take to the streets on Christmas Day to call on the government to repeal the blasphemy law and the conference also noted that President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Human rights activist Asma Jehanghir and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer have all concluded that Asia Bibi is innocent, Speakers have also expressed disappointment that they have not received justice from courts.

Activists from various Christian organizations have also reiterated that they will support Sherry Rehman’s bill seeking amendments to blasphemy laws.

In a related development, Sherry Rehman is no longer alone in her campaign. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has recommended several amendments to the blasphemy law, but it is still opposed to its repeal.

The Council has suggested a number of procedural amendments to ensure that the law is not misused against any individual irrespective of his religion. Capital punishment should however be retained for people who wilfully offend.

Criticism of the misuse of the law is widespread though. Several Pakistani human rights organisations are leading the charge, complaining that the legislation discriminates against minorities.

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that his government would not allow the blasphemy law to be used for the settling personal scores. “The government,” he insisted, “will take all appropriate measures, whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop growing incidents of misuse of the blasphemy law”.

The President made the statement during a meeting with a delegation that included MNAs from the country’s minorities led by Federal Minority Affairs minister.

“Our faith Islam teaches us deep respect for the rights of all human beings,” the president said.

Here is a news item published in BBC Urdu:

آسیہ کو سزا، کرسمس پر یومِ احتجاج
پاکستان میں مسیحی برادری نے رواں سال کرسمس کے تہوار کو یومِ احتجاج کے طور پر منانے کا فیصلہ کیا ہے۔

یہ فیصلہ ایک مسیحی خاتون آسیہ بی بی کی توہین رسالت کے قانون کے تحت دی جانے والی سزائے موت کے فیصلے کے سبب کیا گیا ہے۔

مسیحی رہنما جوزف فرانسس کے مطابق آل پاکستان کرسچن پارٹیز کانفرنس کے ایک اجلاس میں یہ فیصلہ کیا گیا ہے کہ پچیس دسمبر کو لاہور میں ایک احتجاجی مظاہرہ کیا جائے گا اور پورے پاکستان میں مسیحی برادری گھروں اور عبادت گاہوں پر کالے جھنڈے لہرائے گی۔

لاہور میں بی بی سی کی نامہ نگار مناء رانا سے بات کرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ اس برس کرسمس کی عبادت بھی انتہائی سادگی کے ساتھ کی جائے گی۔

جوزف فرانسس کا کہنا تھا کہ آسیہ بی بی بے گناہ ہیں اور ان کی سزا درست نہیں اور ان کے مقدمے کی تفتیش میں خامیاں تھیں۔انہوں نے کہا کہ ہمیں خدشہ ہے کہ آسیہ کو جیل میں قتل نہ کر دیا جائے۔

کرسمس کو اس طرح منانے کا ایک مقصد یہ ہے کہ ہم توہین رسالت کے قانون اور اس فیصلے کے خلاف بین الاقوامی دباؤکو بڑھانا چاھتے ہیں اور پاکستان میں تمام مسیحی برادری کو ایک پلیٹ فارم پر اکٹھا کرنا چاہتے ہیں تاکہ تمام لوگ اپنے گھروں پر سیاہ پرچم لہرائیں اور یہ پرچم اس وقت تک لہرائے جاتے رہیں گے جب تک 295 سی اور بی کی قانونی دفعات ختم نہیں کی جاتیں۔
جوزف فرانسس کے مطابق کرسمس کو اس طرح منانے کا ایک مقصد یہ ہے کہ ہم توہین رسالت کے قانون اور اس فیصلے کے خلاف بین الاقوامی دباؤکو بڑھانا چاھتے ہیں اور پاکستان میں تمام مسیحی برادری کو ایک پلیٹ فارم پر اکٹھا کرنا چاہتے ہیں تاکہ تمام لوگ اپنے گھروں پر سیاہ پرچم لہرائیں اور یہ پرچم اس وقت تک لہرائے جاتے رہیں گے جب تک 295 سی اور بی کی قانونی دفعات ختم نہیں کی جاتیں۔

جوزف فرانسس نے کہا کہ ’پاکستان کی بعض مذہبی جماعتوں نے آسیہ بی بی کو سزایے موت کے فیصلے پر عمل درآمد کے لیے پمفلٹ اور پوسٹرز شائع کیے ہیں، ہم ان کی مزمت کرتے ہیں۔ یہ ملک میں مذہبی رواداری کے خلاف ہے اور کچھ مذہبی جماعتیں اس ضمن میں حکومت پر جو دباؤ ڈال رہیں ہیں اس میں ان کے ذاتی مفاد پنہاں ہیں‘۔

جوزف فرانسس نے کہا کہ شیری رحمان نے توہین رسالت کے بارے میں جو ترمیمی بل پیش کیا ہے ہم اس کی حمایت کرتے ہیں اور اس کے لیے ہم نے ایک کمیٹی بنائی ہے جو ارکان پارلیمان سے مل کر انہیں بتائے گی کہ توہین رسالت کے تحت بنائے جانے والے مقدمات جھوٹے اور بے بنیاد ہوتے ہیں۔

یاد رہےکہ پاکستان میں متعدد افراد کو توہین رسالت کے تحت سزائے موت سنائی جا چکی ہے جبکہ آسیہ بی بی پہلی خاتون ہیں جو اس قانون کے تحت سزا وار قرار پائیں۔

آسیہ بی بی کے فیصلے کے خلاف ہائی کورٹ لاہور میں اپیل دائر کی جا چکی ہے تاہم پاکستان میں ناموس رسالت اور دیگر مزہبی جماعتیں آسیہ کو سزا دینے کے لیے مظاہرے اور اجلاس منعقد کر رہے ہیں۔


Christmas in ‘Islamic State’

Another report which suggests that this Christmas many Christians in predominantly Muslim nations will also be shadowed by fear.

In Iraq, churches have recently been bombed and Christians murdered. In Pakistan, Asia Bibi awaits hanging, accused of insulting the prophet Mahommad(PBUH).

Radio Australia summarizes Asia Bibi blasphemy case.

Pakistan: Released Prisoner Prays for Asia Bibi

Sandul Bibi recently met with one international organization VOM in Pakistan to celebrate one year since her release from prison. Sandul was arrested in October, 2009, and falsely charged with tearing pages from the Holly Quran. During the time of freedom Sandul and the other took time out to pray specifically for Asia Bibi, another Christian in Pakistan who is currently facing a death sentence for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed(PBUH).

This video includes Sandul’s prayer for Asia Bibi, as well as her comments about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that are so often used against innocent citizens.

December 17, 2010

WASHINGTON DIARY: We hypocritical Muslims —by Dr Manzur Ejaz

by admin

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work.

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

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      On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

      The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

      Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

      Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

      Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

      While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

      Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards.

      Somehow, Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority. Religious minorities are persecuted in other countries as well (Christian persecution in India is widespread). However, the difference is that, unlike India and other countries, Pakistan’s constitution provides the grounds for minority discrimination. The Blasphemy Law has become a tool and rallying point for religious organisations for their continuous domination of the political space.

      Presently, the religious parties are using the Blasphemy Law for a proxy war. The support for religious causes has been going down because of terrorist acts by the Taliban and other jihadi groups. Therefore, the campaign for the preservation of the Blasphemy Law is being deployed to regain lost ground and to keep their monopoly over the ideological discourse. Actually, this is a smokescreen to defend the Taliban and other jihadis and provide the ideological basis for the continuation of terrorism.

      The mainstream parties are either spineless or secretly in agreement with the mullahs. Different levels of administration, security agencies and even some courts are not enlightened enough to understand the negative impact of such discriminatory practices.

      While having laws like blasphemy and indulging in the persecution of poor minorities, Pakistan is never going to be a respectable country in the world community. Which foreign business will invest in Pakistan if they fear that the mistake of throwing away a business card can cost them their lives? However, the religious monopoly over the ideological discourse and madness is going to dominate the country until a counter-movement takes shape.

      Source: Daily Times

      December 16, 2010

      Blasphemy law, extremists' reaction and life threatening comments

      by admin
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      Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Thursday made his first public appearance in Islamabad and supports blasphemy laws. He shared the stage with Ch Shujaat Hussain, Ijaz-ul-Haq and PML-N's representative Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

      It potentials to be a dangerous and threatening Christmas for the Christian community in Pakistan. A radical alliance – which includes Pakistan Muslim Leagues, religious political parties allied with banned militant groups – has called a large mass national demonstration entitled Namos-e-risalat, that is, defending the honour of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) on 24 December, after Friday prayers, to say “no” to the release of Asia Bibi and any changes to the blasphemy law. Even JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed attended the meeting. Addressing the gathering, Saeed stressed the need for a well-organised media campaign in favour of the blasphemy law.

      The alliance has called on the “ummah” (Islamic community) in all the world, demanding universal support in the defence of the blasphemy law. Moreover, the radical leaders say: “Asia Bibi is a blasphemous woman and should be repudiated by Christians. Anyone who defends her, an ordinary citizen, politician or Minister, is guilty of blasphemy along with her.”

      A pretty naked threat from extremist lobby will also put pressure on the PPP led civilian government as well as on Parliament, which in those days could examine the parliamentary motion presented by PPP’s lawmaker Ms Sherry Rehman, who is proposing substantial changes to the blasphemy law.

      President Asif Ali Zardari has also desired that the blasphemy law be reviewed and necessary action taken, said a minority member of the Sindh Assembly at a meeting on Saturday. Jamaat e Islami (JI), right wing religious party which last week announced countrywide protests against any attempt to amend the blasphemy law, mounted a sit-in demonstration near parliament in Islamabad Sunday to make its point, along with broader calls for the government to abandon its alliance with the United States. 

      JI chief Munawar Hasan earlier told Pakistani reporters the government had to decide whether it stood with Muslims or with “the blasphemers.” Other Islamist groups have also threatened violent consequences should Bibi be pardoned. The recent decision was announced by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a news conference on the conclusion of the daylong Tahaffuz-i-Nabuwat Conference which was attended by top leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-Q and Jamaatud Dawa and representatives of Wafaqul Madaris and many other smaller religious organisations and groups. Maulana Fazl said that all religious parties were united on the issue. He vowed to resist any move by the government to make changes in the existing blasphemy law.

      The JUI-F chief, who presided over the conference, said all the mosques in the country would organise protest demonstrations on Dec 24 after Friday prayers. He said a big public meeting and protest demonstration would be held in Karachi on Jan 9, which would be attended by all central leaders of religious parties. He said an action plan would also be unveiled at the meeting. He announced that former MNA Dr Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair had been made chairman of Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat committee with an aim to organise the movement at grassroots level. Maulana Fazlur Rehman made an appeal to traders’ organisations and associations of small and big markets to extend their support to the movement and make the shutter-down strike a success. He said that their protest would be so forceful that no one would dare to think about changing the blasphemy law.

      Earlier, during the conference, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declared that his party would oppose every move to change the blasphemy law in the Parliament.

      JI chief Munawar Hassan said it was wrong to say that the blasphemy law had affected only minorities in the country. Qazi Hussain Ahmed suggested that the present movement should at the later stage be converted into a movement for the enforcement of Islamic system in the country.

      PML-N’s MNA from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also attended the conference.

      The conference was also attended by Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawa, Maulana Abdul Majeed Ludhianvi of Majlis Tahaffuz-i-Khatam Nabuwat, Qari Hanif Jalandhary and Dr Abdul Razzaq Sikandar of Wafaqul Madaris, Hafiz Aakif Saeed of Tanzim Islami, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Allama Sajid Naqvi.

      Still, the life of Asia Bibi, a mother of five is in danger. A extremist religious cleric has offered 500,000 rupees — roughly $5,800 — to anyone who kills the jailed Aasia Bibi, who is being held in the district jail in the city of Sheikhupura.

      The Taliban also have threatened retribution should she be spared, yet another sign the case has become a rallying point. He also warned the government not to tamper with blasphemy laws which he said protect Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)’s “sanctity.”

      Within 24 hours of the Taliban warning, Asia Bibi’s frightened family fled their home in the Christian colony of Gloria in Sheikhupura, a 90-minute drive from Lahore.

      Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband said “Even if my wife does come out [of jail], she could be killed,” he said, adding that her case is not the first of its kind.

      “And it’s not just Christians who are targeted. Muslims have also been charged with blasphemy. Christians are easy to implicate, though. If they talk about religion, they are accused of blasphemy. If a Christian touches the Holy Quran, he is accused of a crime. And here, petty issues get twisted into accusations of blasphemy,” Masih said.

      Governor of the Punjab Salmaan Taseer has earned the acrimony & indignation of religious extremists for defending Asia Bibi as a poor Christian woman who should never have been charged and should be pardoned. He’s calling for amendments to the country’s strict blasphemy laws. He infect also served propel and stimulate what has become Pakistan’s first public flurrying and sensitive debate over the blasphemy law when he visited Asia Bibi in jail last month and later told President Asif Ali Zardari she deserved clemency.

      “Before this, nobody was prepared to discuss this law. It will set the mullahs at your throat. And I said that she should be pardoned, and this is a travesty and shame that a poor woman like this who hasn’t the means to defend herself [against] trumped-up charges,” said Taseer, who is Muslim. “And in a country where your prime minister is Muslim, your president is Muslim, you’re 95 percent Muslim — what is the need for laws like this?”

      At a seminar titled ‘Protection of the blasphemy law and its importance’, Justice (r) Mian Nazeer Akhtar said Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was also a blasphemer for he was protecting those who indulged in blasphemy.

      The Rev Samson Dilawar, a parish priest who was wounded by gunmen in 1997 and saw his Catholic church burned to the ground in 2005, has been threatened by anonymous callers for assisting Asia Bibi.

      Surly, such recommendations and amendments risk serious counter blow and retribution. But human right campaigners and intellectuals are suggesting that oscillating and vacillating in the face of a ultraconservative and zealot retro-action would tarnish and vitiate Pakistan’s image even more.

      LUBP is the only blog that has been continously writing against the blasphemy laws and highlighting events of religious persecution. Due to our bold stance against terrorism and extremism we have been continuously receiving threats and abuses from the extremist forces some of them threatening our very lives. Here are some extremely hateful, violent and life threatening comments extremists have made toward Aasia Bibi at LUBP’s Articles:

      My heart is full of anger due to this issue if it would possible for me to kill this bitch aasiya i am ready to do that I have no fear of my own assassination.


      Mr.ali aap ki baat say hum sub bilkul mutaffiq hain her musalman k jazbaat aisay hi honay chahyey jo zuban meray aaqa sallallaho alaihe wasallam ki shaan main koi nazeba jumlay kahay us zaban ko hamesha k liay bund kar dia jai batla do hur dushman e din ko ghairat e muslim zinda hai oon pay mar mitnay ka jazba kal bhi tha aur aaj bhi hai

      ……….. IP address [?]: [Whois] [Reverse IP] IP country code: PK IP address country: Pakistan IP address state: Sindh IP address city: Karachi IP address latitude: 24.8667 IP address longitude: 67.0500 ISP of this IP [?]: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Organization: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Host of this IP: [?]: [Whois] [Trace] Local time in Pakistan: 2010-12-15 13:02

      Yeh saza ki haqdaar hai aur iske sath sath yeh zardari jo uski appeal per court ka faisla rad krne chla aur uske pithoo ppp k tmam rehnuma jnhon ne is jurm ka irtkab krne wale ka sath dia in sab ko saza milni chahea aur inhe saray bazar sir dhar se alag kr dna chahea. jo yeh baat krte hain k hm ne is mulk ko constitution dia aj wohi is constitution mai tabdeeli kr rhe hain aur woh bhe aik pop k kehne per kia hukumat itna bhe nahe kr skti aik christian k lea sb jo yeh insaniyat ka maamla dkhta hai aur us aafia siddique k lea in begherton ko insaniyat yaad nahe aty jb k woh bekasoor hai zardari aur ppp k rehnumaon aur pakistan ki dusri parties k rehnumao Allah tmhe nist naboot kre aur jahanum raseed kre tm nabi meharbaan (s.a.w) k mujrim ho tmhe allah akhrat mai to saza dyga aur inshallah tmhe dunia mai bhe gharat krega


      کاشف نصیر says:
      December 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      اگر ہائی کورٹ نے مبینہ ملعونہ کی سزا براقرار رکھی اور زرداری نے اس کو آئنی پاکستان کی ایک غیر امتیازی شق کے تحط معاف کردیا اور رہا کرنے کا حکم جاری کیا تو میں کاشف نصیر اعلان کرتا ہوں کہ اس ملعونہ میں دھونڈ کے قتل کردوں گا۔ اب جو کرنا ہے کرلو! اور ہاں میں کوئی ملا نہیں اور نہ ہی میں نے ڈاڑھی بڑھائی ہوئی ہے! میں یہ کام کرکے علامہ اقبال کی نصیحت پر عمل کروں گا، یہ نصیحت علامہ اقبال نے غازی علم دین شہید اور غازی عبدل قیوم شہید کے حوالے سے کی ضرب کلیم کی نظم کراچی اور لاہور میں کی تھی

      Salman Taseer is son of a xxxx,
      she has to be killed….
      If i’ll get a chance i’ll kill her its a pleasure for me…
      and how ever killed her will get heaven in reward…


      Editor’s Warning: The commentator appears to be an operative of the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba. His details are being provided below:

      IP address:
      IP country code: PK
      IP address country: Pakistan
      IP address city: Karachi
      IP address latitude: 24.8667
      IP address longitude: 67.0500
      Local time in Pakistan: 2010-11-26 11:53

      December 15, 2010

      Kiran's foetus is malformed, the pregnant Christian girl who was raped

      by admin

      Related Article:
      Rape and murder of Christian girls

      The foetus suffers from a severe form of hydrocephalus; no higher or lower limbs are present. It is destined for certain death due to miscarriage, or, should it come to light, in the first moments of life. That is the tragic diagnosis for the foetus in the womb of Kiran Nayyaz, the 13 year old Catholic girl who became pregnant after being sexually abused in April.

      The incident was condemned by the Church of Faisalabad to Fides last October (see Fides 13/10/2010).

      Nayyaz Kiran, who worked as a maid in the house of a wealthy Muslim landowner, became pregnant after repeated violence subjected by Muhammad Javed, a young Muslim, employed as a driver by the same family.

      The incident happened in the village of Chak Jhumra, 35 km from Faisalabad, in April 2010, but a formal complaint against the rapist was only submitted to authorities on 2 October, thanks to the intervention of the “Justice and Peace Commission” and the “Commission for Women” from the diocese of Faisalabad.

      Kiran is now under the protection of the local Church and has already changed religious convents three times for security reasons. The girl in fact, is in the crosshairs by her own relatives, as well as her attacker’s.

      The family would like to eliminate her because her case is a stain, a “dishonour” for the family, according to the logic that gives precedence to the culture and ancestral traditions of the same Christian faith. The man who abused her, and his group of Muslim cronies would like to kill her to erase any possibility of legal conviction and, therefore, to have assured impunity.

      The Church in Faisalabad is providing all medical and psychological care to the youth. Fides sources say that Kiran is absolutely exhausted, both physically and psychologically, in her painful condition of “child turned adult”. Some doctors say her life could be at risk, given the difficult pregnancy, now in its sixth month. The choice is, however, to “leave it in the hands of Providence and give up to God the life of the child that Kiran carries in her womb. There will not be, however, a voluntary termination of pregnancy. If there is a miscarriage, it will be accepted. If the foetus comes to light he will be baptised in the early moments of his life in the world. “We are always in favour of life, even in this tragic situation,” notes the Fides source.

      Meanwhile human rights groups in Pakistan and also the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy claim that those responsible for the violence, still at large, do not go unpunished, but be arrested and prosecuted.

      Source: FIDES

      December 13, 2010

      ‘President wants blasphemy law reviewed’

      by admin

    • KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has desired that the blasphemy law be reviewed and necessary action taken, said a minority member of the Sindh Assembly at a meeting on Saturday.

      MPA Pitanbar Sewani, speaking at the meeting on ‘Communities vulnerable because of their beliefs’, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said the president had responded to a point raised by him during a meeting held at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House.

      He said he had raised the issue with the president that the blasphemy law was being misused and was a cause of harassment to the minorities and that it might be amended.

      He said the president said: “The federal government may examine it and take necessary action.” And that action on this was to be taken by the federal law minister.

      Mr Sewani also circulated a copy of the minutes of the meeting issued by Mohammad Ishaque Lashari of the President’s Secretariat (Public) at Aiwan-i-Sadar, Islamabad.

      Earlier, I. A. Rehman of the HRCP said that though the HRCP issued a report regarding the status of human rights – which also covered the issues related to the minorities — in the country every year, it was being felt that the issues were of grave nature and could not be fully covered in just a portion of a report, so it was decided that a separate report regarding the status of the minorities in the country would also be published.

      He said a series of meetings were being organised where minority communities were invited to discuss their issues and after this process was completed, a report would be prepared that would depict the picture of the minorities in the country.

      Minority MPA Saleem Khokhar said at the meeting that under the separate electorates the minority representatives had to contest elections so they took care of their electorate, knowing that he would have to go to them again in next polls. But now under the joint electorate system, the political party chief had the power to nominate anybody he liked.

      So if he selected his peon and nominated him for the seat, he would become a parliamentarian.

      He said a major drawback of this system was that in many cases the voters did not know their representative and the parliamentarian might also not be paying due attention to the electorate, knowing that he had become a parliamentarian because of his party chief’s blessing and not because of his voters’ wishes.

      Other speakers raised the issue of forced conversion of minor girls and their marriage with Muslim boys. They demanded that in case of minors, they be reunited with the families till their adulthood and if they still wanted to convert, they be allowed to do so. They said more than 45 Hindu girls had been forcibly converted in Sindh in the past couple of years.

      They demanded that the Minorities Commission, working under the federal Social Welfare Ministry, be abolished and an autonomous and financially independent commission, which should be a statutory body, be constituted. And it should have the powers to receive complaints, investigate them, give recommendations on laws, and should present its report to parliament annually.

      Stressing curriculum reforms, they demanded that textbooks be free from portraying the superiority of one community to another, and if the injecting of religious teachings was necessary, it should comprise tolerant sections from each religion preaching peaceful coexistence of all people in society.

      They alleged that the ruling party in Punjab was showing sympathy to and alliance with a hate campaign launched by some religious groups against the Ahmadis, and attacks against that community were on the rise. They said till the time laws were reviewed/ changed, the situation could be improved through administrative orders.

      They also expressed concern over a stay granted by a Lahore court as the petitioner feared that the president might grant pardon to a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. They said the government and the judiciary should not succumb to the wishes of extremist views held by a small number of people.

      A speaker alleged that when he had applied for a job in an Atomic Energy Commission institute at Tando Jam, he was told that non-Muslims were not recruited in the institute.
      A speaker said that though a five per cent employment quota was allocated for the minorities, it was not being implemented judiciously. Most minority members were recruited for low-level jobs such as sanitary workers, peons, etc. They demanded that the implementation of the quota be made compulsory in every grade.

      They also urged the media to accommodate liberal religious scholars in their talk shows.

      Ghazi Salahuddin, Roland deSouza, Asad Iqbal, Dr Sabir Michael, Shamsher Ali, Kalpana Devi, Munawwar Shahid, Kersasp Shekhdar, Rochiram, Badar Soomro, and others also spoke.

      Source: DAWN

      December 13, 2010

      Blasphemy cases: False accusers escape punishment

      by admin

      Related Article:

      Shia physician charged with blasphemy in Hyderabad Sindh

      The impact of blasphemy laws on human rights

      LAHORE: A number of blasphemy cases continue to be registered against innocent people out of personal vendetta, yet routinely no action is taken against complainants whose accusations prove to be false after due investigations.

      The incidence of implicating innocent people under blasphemy laws is much higher in Punjab than the rest of the country.

      Astonishingly, 801 of the 1,031 people imprisoned under these laws are Muslim. Of the remaining 230 prisoners 162 are Christians, 15 are Sikh, 28 are Buddhists while 25 persons are adherents of other faiths.

      Currently, a total of 130 people are facing blasphemy charges in various prisons across Punjab, including 122 Muslims and eight Christians.

      Official data obtained by The Express Tribune shows that at least 232 people were freed from 32 jails in the province because of lack of evidence and as many as 554 people were out on bail because of an “out-of-court settlement” – a recourse unavailable to such accused. Of the total, cases against 339 were dropped, 13 died in jails of natural causes, one detainee committed suicide in jail, one was murdered in jail while two prisoners were murdered outside jails.

      Only one under trial prisoner detained in district jail Lahore Under Section 295, 20 under-trial prisoners detained in six prisons in Punjab, including 12 prisoners only in Central Jail, Faisalabad, under Section 295-A, 40 under-trial prisoners detained in 17 jails across Punjab under Section 295-B while there are only 17 under-trail prisoners in eight jails.

      As many as five prisoners have been convicted under Section 295-A, 22 convicted under Section 295-B, 26 under Section 295-C while only nine prisoners have been sentenced to death.

      Blasphemy laws were introduced by General Ziaul Haq in 1986. Before these laws were introduced, only one person was booked Under Section 295 in 38 years between 1947 and 1985 in the district jail of Lahore.

      Over the next 24 years, 1,030 people were booked under blasphemy laws.

      Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2010.

      December 6, 2010

      "No one will let her live, the mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out", a BBC report on Asia Bibi

      by admin

      “No one will let her live. The mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out.”
      And Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law.

      Thousands of religious extremists gathered in Islamabad on Sunday, warning the federal government not to touch the country’s blasphemy laws or to pardon Asia Bibi on death row for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed[PBUH]. The case of Asia Bibi has triggered considerable debate in overwhelmingly Muslim[majority]country, where the federal government has been finding it difficult to confront hard-line elements such as the fundamentalist cleric who has offered a reward to anyone who murders her.

      Adding to the concerns for her safety, Yousuf Qureshi, imam of the largest mosque in Peshawar, told a rally Friday that his mosque would give 500,000 rupees (about $5,800) to anyone who kills Bibi. He also warned the government not to tamper with blasphemy laws which he said protect Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)’s “sanctity.”

      Jamaat e Islami (JI), right wing religious party which last week announced countrywide protests against any attempt to amend the blasphemy law, mounted a sit-in demonstration near parliament in Islamabad Sunday to make its point, along with broader calls for the government to abandon its alliance with the United States. JI chief Munawar Hasan earlier told Pakistani reporters the government had to decide whether it stood with Muslims or with “the blasphemers.” Other Islamist groups have also threatened violent consequences should Bibi be pardoned.

      Qureshi’s public incitement to murder sparked some criticism in Pakistani media, but no sign of any law enforcement action or investigation. Article 506 of the Pakistan penal code outlaws “criminal intimidation,” and in cases where death is threatened the standard applicable two-year prison term rises to seven. Minorities minister earlier submitted a report to the President Zardari saying his investigations into the case found Bibi to be innocent.

      The following news story, compiled from BBC News Website.

      Ashiq Masih has the look of a hunted man – gaunt, anxious and exhausted.

      Though he is guilty of nothing, this Pakistani labourer is on the run – with his five children. His wife, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam. That is enough to make the entire family a target. They stay hidden by day, so we met them after dark.

      Mr Masih told us they move constantly, trying to stay one step ahead of the anonymous callers who have been menacing them.

      “I ask who they are, but they refuse to tell me,” he said.

      “They say ‘we’ll deal with you if we get our hands on you’. Now everyone knows about us, so I am hiding my kids here and there. I don’t allow them to go out. Anyone can harm them,” he added.

      Ashiq Masih says his daughters still cry for their mother and ask if she will be home in time for Christmas. He insists that Asia Bibi is innocent and will be freed, but he worries about what will happen next.

      “When she comes out, how she can live safely?” he asks.

      A radical cleric has promised 500,000 Pakistani rupees (£3,700; US$5,800) to anyone prepared to “finish her”. He suggested that the Taliban might be happy to do it.

      Asia Bibi’s troubles began in June 2009 in her village, Ittan Wali, a patchwork of lush fields and dusty streets. Hers was the only Christian household. She was picking berries alongside local Muslim women, when a row developed over sharing water. Days later, the women claimed she had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Soon, Asia Bibi was being pursued by a mob.

      “In the village they tried to put a noose around my neck, so that they could kill me,” she said in a brief appearance outside her jail cell.

      Asia Bibi says she was falsely accused to settle an old score. That is often the case with the blasphemy law, critics say. At the village mosque, we found no mercy for her.

      The imam, Qari Mohammed Salim, told us he cried with joy when sentence was passed on Asia Bibi. He helped to bring the case against her and says she will be made to pay, one way or the other.

      “If the law punishes someone for blasphemy, and that person is pardoned, then we will also take the law in our hands,” he said.

      In Pakistan, Islamic parties have been out on the streets, threatening anarchy if she is freed, or if there is any attempt to amend the blasphemy law.

      Under Pakistan’s penal code, anyone who “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet” can be punished by death or life imprisonment. Death sentences have always been overturned on appeal.

      Human right groups and Christian organisations want the law abolished.

      “It was designed as an instrument of persecution,” says Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan. “It’s discriminatory and abusive.”

      While most of those charged under the law are Muslims, campaigners say it is an easy tool for targeting minorities, in this overwhelmingly Muslim state.

      “It is a hanging sword on the neck of all minorities, especially Christians,” says Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry, which ministers to prisoners, including Asia Bibi.

      “In our churches, homes and workplaces we feel fear,” he says.

      “It’s very easy to make this accusation because of a grudge, or for revenge. Anyone can accuse you. Even our little children are afraid that if they say something wrong at school, they will be charged with blasphemy.”

      ‘No compromise’

      Asia Bibi’s story has sparked a public debate in Pakistan about reforming the law, but it is a touchy – and risky – subject which many politicians would prefer to ignore. Campaigners fear that the talk about reform of the blasphemy laws will amount to no more than that. When Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, raised the issue six months ago, he was threatened with death.

      “I was told I could be beheaded if I proposed any change,” he told us.

      ‘Electric shock’
      Thirty-four people connected with blasphemy cases have been killed since the law was hardened in 1986, according to Pakistan’s Justice and Peace Commission, a Catholic campaign group.

      In a neglected graveyard by a railway track in the city of Faisalabad, we found two of the latest victims of the blasphemy law.

      They are brothers, buried side by side, together in death, as they were in life. Rashid Emmanuel was a pastor. His brother, Sajid, was an MBA student. They were gunned down in July during their trial – inside a courthouse, in handcuffs and in police custody. Relatives, who asked not to be identified, said the blasphemy charges were brought because of a land dispute.

      After the killings, the extended family had to leave home and move to another city. They say they will be moving again soon.

      “We don’t feel safe,” one relative told us.

      “We are shocked, like an electric shock. We are going from one place to another to defend ourselves, and secure our family members.”

      Once a month they come to the cemetery to pray at the graves of their lost loved ones. They are too frightened to visit more often. They bow their heads and mourn for two men who they say were killed for nothing – except being Christian.

      December 4, 2010

      In Pakistan, Christianity Earns a Death Sentence -by Omar Waraich

      by admin

      Governor Salman Taseer’s wife Amina Taseer and daughter Shahar Bano listening Asia Bibi's sad story and expressing concern and sympathy to her.

      It all began a year and a half ago, with a quarrel over a bowl of water. A group of women farm workers were suffering in the heat near a village in Pakistans Punjab province. Aasia Noreen, an illiterate 45-year-old mother five, offered them water, but was rebuffed. Noreen was a Christian, they said, and therefore her water was uncleansadly, a common taunt hurled at Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians. But rather than swallowing the indignity, she mounted a stout defense of her faith.
      Word of the exchange swiftly filtered through the village of Ittan Wali, in Sheikhupura district. The local mullah took to his mosque’s loudspeakers, exhorting his followers to take action against Noreen. In a depressingly familiar pattern, her defense of her faith was twisted into an accusation of blasphemy, according to her family and legal observers familiar with the case. As a frenzied mob pursued her, the police intervened, taking her into custody. But far from protecting her, they arrested and charged Noreen with insulting Islam and its prophet. And on Nov. 8, after enduring 18 months in prison, she was sentenced to death by a district court, making her the first woman to suffer that fate.

      In the ensuing weeks, the case of Noreen, popularly known as Aasia Bibi, has sparked a national furor. Human rights campaigners and lawyers have denounced the sentence. Religious fundamentalist groups, usually at odds with one another, have suddenly coalesced around a campaign to defend the blasphemy law and attack its critics. One politician who called for Noreen to be pardoned now faces a fatwa for alleged apostasy. Another politician, who is trying to have the blasphemy laws amended, has been warned that she will be besieged. On television, religious scholars have disagreed among themselves over the law’s merits. Divisions are also being seen within the government, with powerful figures taking opposing sides. And there has even been global outrage, with Pope Benedict XVI last week calling for Noreen’s freedom.
      Noreen’s case has spurred the first genuine debate over some of Pakistans most controversial laws. The original blasphemy law was drawn up by the British, in the Indian Penal Code of 1860, aimed at keeping the peace among the subcontinent’s sometimes fractious diversity of faiths. Not only did Pakistan inherit the laws after partition, but it added to them. In the 1980s, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship introduced a slew of elastically worded clauses, including a death sentence for those deemed to have defiled the sacred name of the Prophet.

      Before Zia, there were only two reported cases of blasphemy. Since the death sentence was inserted in 1986, the number has soared to 962 — including 340 members of the Ahmadi Muslim sect, 119 Christians, and 14 Hindus. Close examination of the cases reveals the laws often being invoked to settle personal vendettas, or used by Islamist extremists as cover to persecute religious minorities.

      Vague wording allows the blasphemy laws to be used an instrument of political and social coercion, says Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. And they give the state a sectarian character.

      No conclusive evidence has been presented against Noreen, say people familiar with the case. The district judge relied on the testimonies of three other women, all of whom bore animus toward her.

      Noreen had long been under pressure by fellow farmworkers to convert to Islam, her family says. And the district judge ruled out any possibility of her innocence or mitigating circumstances.
      Christians are subject to vicious prejudice in Pakistan, where there beliefs are said to make them “unclean.” Municipalities routinely advertise jobs for cleaners with a note saying they would prefer Christian applicants. And defending their rights is not popular.

      When Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, visited Noreen in prison and urged her release, he was branded an apostate by fundamentalist groups. And in the fundamentalist view, apostasy, like blasphemy, is punishable by death.
      Liberal lawmaker Sherry Rehman who has called for amendment of the blasphemy laws and removal of the death sentence clause was warned this week that she would be “besieged.” It is a measure of the state’s impotence in the face of extremist groups that such high-profile public figures can be openly threatened for merely advocating human rights, says Hasan, of Human Rights Watch.
      Rehman insists that she won’t be cowed by the threats. “I really can’t be coerced into silencing myself like this,” she tells TIME. “It’s my freedom as a legislator to do as I do. If they want to talk, there’s no issue. But to use coercion is unacceptable.” Taseer, a notably outspoken politician, is phlegmatic. “It doesnt bother me,” he tells TIME. “Who the hell are these illiterare maulvis to decide to whether I’m a Muslim or not?”

      Rehman’s reform effort is unlikely to succeed, because few politicians have dared to support it. Indeed, Babar Awan, the Law Minister has vowed to oppose any move against the blasphemy laws. What’s more, the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who had last year suggested the laws should be reviewed after the killing of nine Christians in Punjab, now seems to be distancing himself. “It is not our party policy,” he told a news channel this week, when asked about Rehman’s bill. But Rehman, who spent years fighting laws that discriminate against women, says its mere submission is an important first step: “The first stone has been cast. It’s not a taboo subject anymore to be taken up by legislators.”

      More worrying is the fate of Noreen. The Lahore High Court has taken the controversial step of saying that it won’t allow President Asif Ali Zardari to issue a pardon, a move that legal experts have said is unconstitutional. Her family is now hoping that the higher courts will strike down the death sentence, or that she will eventually secure a pardon. And the fear doesn’t end there. While no one has been executed for blasphemy yet, 32 people — including two judges — have been slain by vigilantes. At Friday prayers this week, Yousef Qureshi, a hardline cleric from the Mohabat Khan mosque in Peshawar, offered a reward of 500,000 rupees ($5,800) to “those who kill Aasia Bibi.”

      Even if pardoned, Rehman notes grimply, Noreen will no longer be able to to live in her community. For her own safety, she will have to be moved — simply for defending her right to choose her own faith.

      Source: TIME

      December 4, 2010

      Asia Bibi, lawyers working to expose the false testimonies

      by admin

      To expose the false witnesses, highlighting the “castle of liars” that accuses Asia Bibi; to demonstrate the failures of the police and the conditions suffered by the judge who in the first instance issued the death sentence. Lawyers of Asia Bibi told Fides that this is the defensive line they are adopting in preparation for the appeal process, pending the first hearing in the High Court of Lahore.

      The new investigation sponsored by the defence, lawyers told Fides, will demonstrate that the two female “eyewitnesses” for the indictment of Asia, were not at all present at the time of the controversy when the blasphemous insults would have been generated. Moreover, the trial papers, which Fides had the opportunity to consult, show an imaginary “public confession” that Asia Bibi would have released, upon which the verdict of the death sentence is based. This, too, notes the defence, “is a gross untruth” to be denounced in the appeal process. Investigations conducted by law enforcement officers in charge of the case were also “driven” and “in one direction”.

      On behalf of the Masihi Foundation based in London and Lahore – the only NGO that is truly giving legal assistance and taking care of Asia Bibi’s family – lawyers are proceeding with charges of false witness against those who contributed to the conviction of Asia and asking for substantial damages.

      Today, on these dynamics that characterize the accusers of blasphemy, Rana Sanaullah, Minister of law of the Province of Punjab, spoke publicly, stating that “in cases like this of false witnesses, once proof of bad faith has been established, the same penalty should be imposed as that suffered by the innocent victims of false charges.”

      Meanwhile there is now another victim of the blasphemy law. It is young Muslim, Muhammad Amin, a Pakistani blogger in the city of Bahawalpur, province of Sindh. The young man had posted material considered blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad on his blog and exchanged it with a friend, who was also charged. A police officer noticed it by chance, and thus the complaint and the arrest were triggered.

      The incident confirms that the controversial “blasphemy law” – the subject of intense debate in Pakistani society – has spread its tentacles even to the web. Back in June, the Ministry of Information Technology had expanded the crime of blasphemy to the Internet, placing at scrutiny Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Youtube, but also Amazon, MSN, Hotmail, and Bing, causing a storm of reprimands and imposing very strong restrictions (see Fides 26/6/2010). A task force of inspectors is responsible for monitoring the web browsers available to Pakistanis, who may be accused and arrested for blasphemy.

      Source: FIDES