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Pakistan

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 (5:57 pm)

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

“If the accused is [not a Christian but] a Muslim, they have many ways to investigate and try to save them from this…possibly death-sentence carrying blasphemy allegation,” he said.

Cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti has been released.

Cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti has been released.

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A leading rights lawyer says he is “disappointed” that a Muslim cleric who  “falsely” accused a Christian girl of blasphemy has been released, while several Christians remain in Pakistani jails for allegedly hurting Islamic feelings.

“We were disappointed about the judgment of the [Islamabad] court in the case of Khalid Jadoon Chishti. He tempered the evidence by adding Koranic pages into ashes [to blame the girl] Rimsha Masih of blasphemy,” said lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, director of the Legal Evangelical Association Development group.

Masih, 14, was detained in August 2012 and spent three weeks in one of Pakistan’s toughest jails, but the case against her was eventually quashed amid international pressure.

She moved to Canada, after the cleric himself was accused of “desecrating the Koran” and “tampering with evidence” against Rimsha.

Yet on Saturday, August 17, the court acquitted Chishti of all charges “as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted… Continue reading

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

The case has underscored the issue of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, which rights groups say are often used  to settle personal disputes or attack religious minorities

Rimsha Masih was accused of blasphemy.

Rimsha Masih was accused of blasphemy.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Pakistan court has acquitted a Muslim cleric who accused Christian girl of blasphemy against Islam, before he himself was detained on similar charges, trial observers said.

Khalid Jadoon Chishti, the imam of the local mosque, had accused Rimsha Masih of burning pages containing texts of the Koran, deemed a holy book by Muslims.

The 14-year-old girl was detained in August 2012 and spent three weeks in one of Pakistan’s toughest jails with adult  inmates, but the case against her was quashed amid international pressure.

Soon after, Chishti himself was accused of  “desecrating the Koran and tampering” with the evidence against Rimsha.

He allegedly planted pages of the Koran in a bag full of ash that was seized from the girl, believed to be mentally disabled.

CLEARLIC DETAINED

Trial observers said that though the cleric was detained, he was never formally indicted. His lawyer said the Islamabad court released him Saturday, August 17, after accepting there was not… Continue reading

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 (7:20 pm)

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

Mourners gather around human remains of murdered Christian Ishaq Masih.

Mourners gather around human remains of murdered Christian Ishaq Masih.

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Pakistan’s Punjab province were still awaiting justice Tuesday, August 13, more than two weeks after a local Christian leader and landowner was shot and killed by at least one Islamic gunman in front of his young children, family members and activists said.

Ishaq Masih, a resident of an Okara district village near provincial capital Lahore, was reportedly shot dead July 27 while his two young sons were watching the bloodshed.

The main gunman was publicly identified as Muhammad Luqman, also known as Ranjha. He allegedly illegally occupied Masih’s land, accompanied by at least seven others.

“They surrounded us and started beating my father,” said the late Christian’s 15-year-old son, Arshad Masih in published remarks seen by BosNewsLife. “I and my brother cried for help but nobody was there to help us. They were laughing and raising slogans that this bleady Christian has a lot of land,” he recalled in a statement distributed by rights activists.

Local Christians linked the attack to Masih’s activities who besides being an active landowner… Continue reading

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A prominent Christian rights lawyer who has been on the run in Pakistan amid death threats asked fellow believers Thursday, August 1, to pray for his family after armed Islamic militants discovered a hiding address.

Sardar Mushtag Gill says he has been threatened by Muslim militants.

Sardar Mushtag Gill says he fears for his life after militants discovered hiding place.

Sardar Mushtag Gill told BosNewsLife that six men, some of them carrying guns, on Monday, July 29, visited a family home in the Pakistani city of Lahore where his younger brother opened the door. “They were members of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the Islamic group that killed the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, and Christian federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti in 2011 because they criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws,” he said.

“They told my brother they want to meet me, but I am sure they really wanted to kill me. They made that clear in letters I received,” added Gill, who managed to escape. “The militants wrote that ‘those who support a blasphemer must die’,” he recalled.

Gill linked the latest threats to a Lahore trial court decision last week not to pursue a blasphemy case against his… Continue reading

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

Sardar Mushtag Gill (right) says he has been defending Christians, including prisoners, amid death threats from militants.

Sardar Mushtag Gill (right) says he has been defending Christians, including prisoners, amid death threats from militants.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Pakistani Christian rights lawyer who faces death threats from Islamic militants says local police refuse to protect him but that he will ask a court to force them to provide security and investigate the case.

Sardar Mushtag Gill, 32, was also considering Friday, June 28, to leave his home in Punjab province with his 26-year-old wife after he and a friend were “forcibly stopped at gunpoint by three armed men” last Sunday, June 23.

“This is ofcourse difficult to prepare. We need save transport,” he told BosNewsLife speaking from his home.

He said Islamic militants are apparently furious that he met Christian women who were beaten and forced to parade naked in Sereser Chak No. 21 village by activists of the governing party Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Sisters Arshad Bibi, Sajida Bibi and Sauriya Bibi, were reportedly abused by armed men and an influential PML-N backed landlord on June 3 because goats owned by the women allegedly entered the landlord’s fields and damaged crops.

MILITANTS OBJECTING

The militants also objected to Gill’s… Continue reading

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Sardar Mushtag Gill says he has been threatened by Muslim militants.

Sardar Mushtag Gill says he has been threatened by Muslim militants.

PATTOKI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– The chief lawyer defending Christian women who were reportedly sexually abused by activists of Pakistan’s ruling party said Monday, June 24, that Muslim militants have threatened to kill him if he and his legal team continue with this case or others, including attacks on a Christian neighborhood and rape.

Sardar Mushtag Gill, who heads the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group, told BosNewsLife that he and a friend were “forcibly stopped at gunpoint by three armed men” Sunday, June 23, while driving home on a motorbike after meeting the mistreated women and their family in Sereser Chak No. 21 village,  in the Kasur district of Punjab province.

“After we were stopped at Bypass Multan road they threatened to kill us while shooting in the air,” Gill recalled. “I am confused that they didn’t tell anything else…They just terrified us by their [potentially] deadly act”, he added.

Gill,  32,  said he had spoken with the recently attacked Christians about presenting a petition on June 24 asking the nearby Pattoki Court to detain the suspects,… Continue reading