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PAKISTAN: Another Christian woman accused of blasphemy

Another Christian woman accused of blasphemy for forwarding a text

Claas (23.08.2021) –- http://www.claas.org.uk  – A Christian woman, Shagufta Kiran from Islamabad, Pakistan has been accused of blasphemy for simply forwarding a message.

 

Shagufta was arrested on July 29 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and she is still in their custody under investigation.

 

Shgufta’s husband Rafique Maish told the Pak Christian News (PCN) that armed police raided their home and arrested his wife and two sons accusing them of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law by forwarding a WhatsApp post which included blasphemous content.

 

He said: “They harassed my family and took possession of our telephones, computer and other valuable items. The police were armed with firearms instructed us not to move and to keep our hands up. They arrested Shagufta and my two sons without prior information or an arrest warrant.

 

“They took my wife and sons to the police station, charged Shagufta under 295-A and 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy but later on freed my sons.”

 

He kept on saying they have fled Islamabad because of fear and threats and have moved somewhere they feel safer.

 

Rafique further said that Shagufta was arrested because she was a member of a WhatsApp group where someone allegedly shared a blasphemous message, which Shagufta forwarded to other persons without reading and knowing the consequences.

 

“Shagufta knew nothing about the post, she was not even the author of the post in question but was accused of passing it on,” Rafique explained.

 

Nasir Saeed, Director of the CLAAS-UK expressed his concern over the ongoing misuse and abused of the blasphemy law against poor and illiterate members of the religious minorities.

 

He said: “This is not the first time that someone has been charged for sharing a post on the social media, but there are several examples like Patras and Sajid and a young boy Nabeel who has been recently granted bail but the case is ongoing against him and he has to prove himself innocent. While police have failed to find and arrest the authors of such posts.

 

He said that Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar have recently been released after seven years of blasphemy charges and have safely reached the Netherlands.

 

Their case was another which broadly followed the pattern of the case of Asia Bibi, who was acquitted by Supreme Court in 2018 but not everyone is lucky like them. There are several languishing in prison for years but nobody speaks about them.

 

Mr Saeed said: “I don’t know how many years it will take for Shagufta Kiran to prove herself innocent.”

 

The European Union parliament has adopted a resolution in April for Shagufta and Shafqat Emmanuel, demanding that Pakistan allow space for religious freedom and urged the EU authorities to review the GSP Plus status for Pakistan.

 

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For more information contact Nasir Saeed: info@claas.org.uk

T: 02081506763  W: www.claas.org.uk

About CLAAS: Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level. CLAAS provides free legal aid to victims of religious intolerance in Pakistan, as well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.

Photo: www.claas.org

Further reading about FORB in Pakistan on HRWF website





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PAKISTAN: Petition to make the death penalty the only punishment for blasphemy

CLAAS-UK (25.03.2021) – Pakistan’s attorney general and provincial advocate general have been issued notices by the Peshawar High Court regarding a petition calling for the removal of all punishments except the death penalty for blasphemy from the country’s penal code.

 

The notices were issued because the bench said the matters raised in the petition needed serious consideration.

 

The petitioner claimed the issue of an alternative punishment of life imprisonment had already been decided by the Federal Shariat Court, but it had not been implemented by federal and provincial governments.

 

According to him, the Federal Shariat Court said an alternative punishment of life imprisonment went against the injunctions of Islam.

 

The hearing will be fixed later.

 

The respondents in the petition are the federation of Pakistan through law secretary, federal law minister, KP governor and its chief minister, KP Assembly through its secretary, provincial law minister, provincial chief secretary and law secretary, and KP Assembly’s speaker.

 

According to the petitioner it is the responsibility of the respondents to bring all existing laws in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, under Article 227 of the Constitution.

 

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS said: “This is not the time to relive the issue of whether the only punishment for those who commit blasphemy should be the “death sentence” for, but this is the time to think about how to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law, as we see everyday how this law is being misused.

 

Since the blasphemy law was amended in 1986, we have seen the unimpeded misuse of this law by individuals and religious groups to achieve their goals and settle their personal grudges, especially against religious minorities.

 

A few years after this law was passed, we started seeing the negative impact of this amendment on society.

 

In 1992 the first ‘blasphemy murder’ took place of the Christian Punjabi poet and teacher Naimat Ahmar. Then after a few years, thousands of Muslims attacked the Christian village, Shanti Nagar, calling them blasphemers.

 

During the attack 785 houses and 4 churches were destroyed, while 2,500 Christians were also forced to flee their village. And the incidents continued after that with the attacks on Gojra and Korian, Sangla hill and Joseph colony, Lahore.

 

Dozens of  people have been extra judicially killed including the Governor of Punjab,  Salman Taseer, the only Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and  Shama and Shahzad who were burnt alive in the brick kiln factory. The killings also continue.

 

Several dozen innocent people are languishing in the country’s prisons and it takes them years and years to get justice and prove themselves innocent.

 

Imran Ghafur, Asia Bibi and Wajih-ul-Hassan are just a few examples, and nobody has any remorse, neither the lawmakers nor the courts.

 

The need to amend to the law was recognised even after a few years. Several governments have pledged to stop its misuse, and even recommended 10 years imprisonment for a false accusation, but until today nothing has changed. Instead voices against the misuse of the blasphemy law have been forced into silence.

 

And now the issue has been reignited with calls for the removal of the word “or” and to make the death penalty the only punishment for blasphemy, while the majority know that this law is being misused.

 

Mr Saeed further said that the government must take this matter seriously and take appropriate steps to stop the ongoing misuse of this law.





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PAKISTAN: Two Christians distributing booklets charged for blasphemy

CLAAS (14.02.2021) – On 13 January Model Town police station, Lahore registered a blasphemy case under section 295 -A, B and C, Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which has a mandatory death penalty, against two young Christians, Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih.

The complainant Haroon Ahmad said in his statement that while he was in the Model Town Park with his friends Harris Khalid, Zakir Ali and Zulqarnain, two Christian boys approached them and introduced themselves as Haroon Ayub and Salamat Mansha and handed over a copy of a Christian booklet “Water of Life” and started preaching about Christianity.

They further said that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had strayed on the path of religion while Christ had never married and continued His preaching while their prophet had got married to extend his line.

Ahmad further told the police that the men further said the Bible is the true book while the Holy Quran is not a true book. He claimed Mansha Masih repeated this sentence, hurting their religious feelings. Ahmad said such words against Islam and their disrespect of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an act of terrorism and intentionally committing a blasphemy against Islam and the prophet (PBUH), therefore a case should not just be registered against Haroon and Mansha but the whole group involved in distributing this literature should be arrested and also this whole blasphemous literature should be confiscated.

The police arrested Salamat Mansha while Haroon Ayub escaped, and the whole family has gone into hiding.

Nasir Saeed Director of CLAAS-UK said: “This is the 2nd case of this year. Last month a Christian staff nurse and gospel singer was charged under the blasphemy law, while according to her she has not committed blasphemy, but she was falsely implicated in the case by her Muslim colleagues because she used to tell them to do their duty honestly and not bother patients for money.  She used to offer prayers and respects all religions, including Islam.”

Mr Saeed further said that the constitution of Pakistan or any Pakistani law imposes no restriction on anyone preaching or propagating their religion.

He added: “Although endeavours are continuing to convert Pakistan into a theocratic state and impose shariah law in the country, so far Pakistan is a democratic state and everyone has the right to preach and propagate their religion.

“This is not a right that only the majority religion has. Pakistan has signed international conventions on religious freedom and freedom of speech, therefore Pakistan must respect them.

“Unfortunately, Pakistani society has been torn apart by intolerance and violence, a far cry from the original ideal of a tolerant country.

“Religious minorities are increasingly the targets of bigotry, which is often instigated by extremist forces, Islamic political parties and their leadership.”





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PAKISTAN: Christian staff nurse and gospel singer accused of committing blasphemy

By Nasir Saeed

CLAAS (28.01.2021) – https://bit.ly/2YDx2uL – A Christian staff nurse and gospel singer Tabita, 30, from Karachi has been accused of committing blasphemy.

On January 28, Tabita’s colleagues at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital, Karachi, where she has been working for the last nine years, accused her of committing blasphemy.

Before then there had been no such complaints against her.

According to reports Tabita had not said anything against the Islam or in the respect of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), but the whole issue was prompted up because of a misunderstanding between colleagues.

According to reports she was tied up with ropes and locked in a room before the police were called.

The police arrived and took Tabita with them to the police officers of Aram Bagh, police station, Karachi.

According to our colleagues the police of Aram Bagh handled the case wisely and during their careful and impartial investigation police found all charges against Tabita baseless.

The police found that Tabita had committed no blasphemy, but it was just misunderstanding between the colleagues.

The investigating officer cleared Tabita of blasphemy charges and allowed her to leave the police station safely without any further restriction.

We tried to speak to speak to Tabita, but she was so fearful, and she said she was not in the right state of mind to have a conversation.

She promised to explain the situation later on and has left her home and gone into hiding at an unknown place.

Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK has condemned the incidents and said it is a relief that the accusation against Tabita raised by her colleagues have been found to be baseless.

He added: “Unfortunately her life will never be the same again, as she has already left her home and gone into hiding. But the most important thing is that she is not charged under the blasphemy law, otherwise she would have had to spend the rest of her life in jail.”

Mr Saeed also praised the role of the police for their quick, fair and impartial investigation. He said the police have a basic and important role to determine whether blasphemy has been committed or if the accusations are fabricated just to settle personal scores.

Mr Saeed said: “Unfortunately, according to our own study, blasphemy laws continue to be misused by individuals to settle their personal scores. Last year alone nearly 60 people including nine Christians and forty-seven Muslims (40 from Shia community) were been charged with blasphemy, while at least three innocent people – one Christian, one from Ahmadiyya community, and one Muslim – have been killed by individuals.”

Criticising the government, he added that it is a need of the times to look into this matter to see how to stop the growing misuse of the blasphemy law against innocent people and bring changes where necessary.

Mr Saeed said the wording of the blasphemy law is so broad and vague that it has allowed a wide range of acts and its continuous misuse.

“As we saw last year senior politician and ex foreign minister Khawaja Asif was accused of committing blasphemy when he said all religions are equal.

“In another instance, a Pakistani academic, Arfana Mallah, had to tender an apology for hurting the sentiments of fellow Muslims and religious leaders for calling the blasphemy law a “black law”,” Mr Saeed said.

For more information contact Nasir Saeed: info@claas.org.uk – Website: www.claas.org.uk

About CLAAS:Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level. CLAAS provides free legal aid to victims of religious intolerance in Pakistan, as well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.

Credit Photo : Tabitha Nazir Gill with one of her burqa-clad attackers at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi. (Photo supplied)


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