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  • » 02/16/2011, 00.00

    PAKISTAN – UNITED STATES

    Lahore: for Islamic fundamentalists, Raymond Davis is a blasphemer who must be beheaded

    Jibran Khan

    The US national, in prison for killing two Pakistanis, allegedly insulted the prison’s religious leader and other inmates who were praying. Pakistan’s extremist camp wants the American sentenced to death. It has announced demonstrations in case of his release. Fundamentalists want to see Asia Bibi as well as the US national, who claims diplomatic immunity, hanged.

    Lahore (AsiaNews) – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), an Islamic political movement, wants Raymond Davis, a US citizen, tried for blasphemy, an offence that carries the death penalty. JUI chief Maulana Samiul Haq has accused him of disrespect towards the Friday call to prayer from a mosque and derogatory remarks about people who gathered for prayers as well as misbehaviour towards prison staff. The alleged actions occurred in Kot Lakhpat Maximum Security Prison in Lahore where the 36-year-old US national is being held on charges of double murder. He is waiting for Pakistani authorities to rule on his claim to diplomatic immunity.

    For Raymond Davis, the situation is getting more complicated. Pakistan’s extremist camp is now egging on crowds and demanding an exemplary punishment for him. This comes at a time when tensions between Washington and Islamabad are at their highest. The 36-year-old American is in jail on charges of killing two men on 27 January in Lahore. He claims he acted in self-defence.

    A local court ruled that he be held for two weeks in preventive custody. The inquiry appears to show that he shot in cold blood two Pakistanis, probably agents of the country’s Inter-Service Intelligence, as they fled on a motorbike.

    The United States wants Pakistan to recognise his diplomatic immunity even though the Vienna Convention does not cover serious crimes like murder, which is what he is charged with.

    In recent days, Raymond Davis is thought to have made his situation even worse. According to Mian Mushtaq Awan, Kot Lakhpat prison superintendant, the American insulted the prison’s religious leader and inmates who had met for morning prayers.

    A group of prisoners tried to attack him but he was rescued by police before he could be lynched. A guard said, “Davis made derogatory remarks about Islam and Muslim prayers”.

    News about the incident fired up the country’s extremist camp. For Maulana Samiul Haq, “Davis`s behaviour is punishable by death,” irrespective of his diplomatic immunity.

    The JUI leader also called on the government to “hang Asia Bibi, the Christian woman, who insulted the prophet to make her an example for everyone in the country.” He was referring to the Christian mother who is in jail after being sentenced to death for blasphemy and waiting for her appeal to be heard.

    Pakistan’s Islamic extremists have called for a national day of protest on 20 February in Peshawar to defend the ‘black law’.

    Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has warned the government that if it released Davis, it would hold street demonstrations.

    A TTP spokesman called on the authorities to hand over Davis so that they could behead him. He also threatened judges.

    US Senator John Kerry has arrived in Lahore in an attempt to solve the matter. He met former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Queshi and Prime MinisterYousaf Raza Gilani to discuss details.

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    See also

    11/05/2011 PAKISTAN
    Sialkot: Muslim businessman uses blasphemy law against Christian rival
    Gulzar Masih and his son Suleman own a bookstore. They were forced to flee to avoid being attacked by a mob. Both are accused of burning a copy of the Qur‘an. In reality, they were set up by the older Masih’s Muslim business partner, who was envious of their success. Catholic priest bemoans the abuses linked to the ‘black law’ and warns that “extremist elements are getting stronger” in Pakistan.

    03/03/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Christians fear more massacres after churches and tombs are desecrated
    Kot Addu’s Christian community is facing more wrongdoings by local landlords who grabbed Christian-owned fields and shops with the complicity of local police and officials. Christian symbols are desecrated but the blasphemy law is not applied in this case. Local authorities say accusations are all made up but fail to provide legal backing for grabbing Christian property.

    17/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Collusion between police and extremists cause of deaths in judicial custody, Pakistani NGO says
    A human rights group expresses concern over “increasing incidents of violence” against religious minorities. Fanatics enjoy impunity thanks to complicitous prison guards. The government is blamed for not prosecuting people responsible for such crimes. Police has not yet registered a first information report on the murder of a 20-year-old Christian man in Sialkot prison.

    12/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Punjab, Muslim extremists burn church over alleged blasphemy case
    The call to hunt Christians launched at local mosque after the Friday prayers. The mob stormed and set fire to the church, ransacked two houses. Muslims accuse a young Christian had desecrated the Koran. In reality the young man is involved with a Muslim girl.

    04/02/2005 PAKISTAN
    New cases of violence and torture against Pakistani Christians
    Instead of investigating, local authorities engage in cover-ups. In some cases, international organisations ignore the plight of Christians.



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