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Pakistan court upholds death penalty for Asia Bibi despite serious legal loopholes in trial

October 17, 2014
"Blasphemy: The True, Heart-Breaking Story Of The Woman Sentenced To Death Over A Cup Of Water by Asia Bibi" - related by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet (Virago, London, 2012)

“Blasphemy: The True, Heart-Breaking Story Of The Woman Sentenced To Death Over A Cup Of Water by Asia Bibi” – related by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet (Virago, London, 2012)

Pakistani Christian Aasia Bibi had an argument with some coworkers over drinking water in 2009. The argument turned into a religious one and she was accused of blasphemy against Islam. Two politicians have been killed for standing up for her. She was convicted in Nov. 2010 and yesterday her appeal was rejected by the appellate court. Legal arguments in this story, published in Worldwatch Monitor, October 17, 2014, reproduced below (emphasis added). Also see The dangers of ignoring ‘malicious intent’ while accusing of ‘injuring religious sentiments’.

By Asif Aqeel

The first Christian woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws had her appeal rejected by the High Court in Lahore on Thursday.

Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.

While the two women were working together, the Muslim woman had refused water from Noreen on the grounds that it was unclean because it had been handled by a Christian.

The Muslim woman, together with her sister, were the only two witnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

Read more…

Another ‘blasphemy murder’. RIP Rashid Rehman Khan

May 9, 2014

Rashid Rehman- screenshot from Mukhtiar Mai documentary On April 21 evening, Supreme Court advocate Rashid Rehman Khan in Multan sent this note below to an email list with the subject line, “media campaign by vampires”. He included scans of a report in that day’s daily Khabrain about a press conference by Tehrik-e-Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (Movement to Protect the Honour of the Prophethood), where speakers objected to his attempts to move the case of a ‘blasphemy’ accused teacher whom he was defending, out of Multan. Read more…

Petition: Release Sawan Masih and Repeal Blasphemy Laws

April 1, 2014

Release Sawan Masih and Repeal Blasphemy LawsA Sessions Court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian sweeper Sawan Masih, 26, to death for to false accusations of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (on Him be Peace), after waiting for a trial since March 2013.

These allegations, triggered due to personal grudges between Sawan and a Muslim friend, led a mob of angry Muslims to burn down a Christian village in Joseph Colony, Lahore, leaving the poverty stricken residents homeless and penniless.

Pakistan’s “Blasphemy laws” include Section 295, related to damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object. 295-A forbids outraging religious feelings. 295-B forbids defiling the Quran. 295-C forbids defaming the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Except for 295-C, the provisions of 295 require that an offence be a consequence of the accused’s intent. Defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming Muhammad (PBUH) merits death with or without a fine. If a charge is laid under 295-C, the trial must take place in a Sessions Court presided over by a Muslim judge. High Courts have always overturned these verdicts on appeal, but the laws continue to be misused as a weapon to execute revenge for personal enmity against non-Muslims and Muslims in Pakistan.

If you believe justice should prevail and human life is too precious to be lost to hate, please add your voice to this online petition.


Pakistan: ‘Blasphemy’ – A crime unlike any other

January 30, 2014

By NAZIHA SYED ALI | Published in Dawn, Jan 28, 2014

Last week, a 65-year-old British man of Pakistani origin, Mohammad Asghar, who is said have a history of mental illness, was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a court in Rawalpindi.

Read more…

From Quetta, Dec 10, 2013: ASWJ-SSP bullying in name of religion

December 16, 2013

pome 3 The truth behind the ‘blasphemy’ incident featuring fruit crates allegedly wrapped in pages of the Holy Quran, account received from Quetta (name withheld for security reasons):

In the early hours of 10th Dec, 2013, as usual, I heard a blast with big bang, followed by firing on Alamdar Road Quetta, where majority of residents hail from Hazara community. Read more…

Hate speech continues unabated in Pakistan

June 20, 2013

Hate speech flourishes in Pakistan, inciting violence with impunity. Lately, anti Ahmedis posters have been cropping up around Karachi


Anti-Ahmedi poster on display at a the Masjid Haider Karraar, Block 2, Clifton, Karachi

These posters, which are visible around the city, display a fatwa (clerical opinion) in Urdu by Ahmed Raza Khan Bralevi, urging people to disassociate themselves from Ahmedis in respect of all matters of life and death. Read more…

Malicious intent – Pakistan’s ‘blasphemy laws’

November 3, 2012
Demonstration in support of Salmaan Taseer's killer

Pakistani extremists marching in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who killed the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, after he spoke out against the country’s blasphemy laws.

Malicious intent

Those calling for a global blasphemy law should heed the lessons from Pakistan, says Beena Sarwar, writing in New Humanist magazine

photo of Beena Sarwar

In Pakistan a democratically elected but weak government struggles to hold on to power against tremendous odds. If, despite the challenges, it completes its tenure and makes it to the next election it will be the first time in the country’s 65-year history. Despite the impression you may get from reporting about Pakistan, extremist religious voices have little popular support, and no hope of supplanting the government at the polls. But they do have other weapons at their disposal. They try to capture political space by other means, in particular by stirring up religious fervour and sectarian hatred. They are aided in this by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Read more…


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