26 May, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile






mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 01/30/2013
PAKISTAN
Punjab: Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy acquitted on appeal
by Jibran Khan
After Rimsha Masih, the community celebrates the release of Barkat Masih, after 18 months in prison. He had been indicted on false charges, for having fulfilled his job. The joy of human rights activists and associations: another "important precedent". Pakistani priest: it is time to review the laws and prevent abuse.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - After the young girl Rimsha Masih, the Pakistani Christian community can celebrate the acquittal on appeal of a man sentenced to death - without evidence and on the basis of trumped-up charges - for blasphemy. The verdict may give new vigor and hope the other victims of the "black law", including the 46-year old mother of five, Asia Bibi, still waiting for the appeal hearing to begin. Many, in fact, are calling for a "revision" of the law, which is often used to settle personal disputes and conflicts and which caused the brutal murders of Catholic Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in 2011.

Barkat Masih, 56 (pictured), was born to a Hindu family but converted to Christianity.  A native of the city of Bahawalpur in Punjab province, he was involved (although innocent) in a case of blasphemy on October 1, 2011, and was sentence in the first instance to the death penalty.

Local sources said that the man, a security guard by profession, git caught up in a workers dispute, who wanted to illegally occupy a portion of land. He prevented them from entering an office, where property documents were stored. At his refusal, two Muslim workers - Muhammad Saleem and Muhammad Shoaib - insulted and threatened him, and promised to "make him pay."

They reported him to police, who carried arrested him on charges of having insulted the Prophet Muhammad, a crime that can lead to the death penalty under Article 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, after spending 18 months in prison on 28 January, Judge Javed Ahmed of Bahawalpur High Court upheld the appeal and acquitted the accused because the crime does not exist.

Human rights activists and Christian leaders are satisfied with the judgment, a positive signal for many similar cases in the future. The NGO World Vision In Progress, which supported the man's defense, is happy with the verdict and speaks of "the beginning of a change." Haroon Barkat Masih, president of the Masihi Foundation, points out that the blasphemy laws are exploited to "target the marginalized communities" and that charges "are tantamount to a death sentence." For this reason he hopes that the case is an important "precedent" and that "necessary changes" be made to the law. Finally, Fr. Nawaz George, a priest of the Diocese of Lahore, committed to defending the rights of Christians, expresses his "delight" at the release of an "innocent person" who kept "firm in his faith." "We hope that this fact - he concludes - may bring new hope to people who are in prison, waiting for justice to be done."

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
08/24/2012 PAKISTAN
Pakistani Muslims: Disabled 11 yr-old Christian should be punished
by Jibran Khan
04/17/2009 PAKISTAN
Lahore High Court clears two Christians of blasphemy charges
by Qaiser Felix
09/18/2007 PAKISTAN
”Blasphemous” Christian freed after a year: he was innocent.
by Qaiser Felix
04/04/2007 PAKISTAN
Accused of blasphemy, an 11 year old boy risks the death penalty
by Qaiser Felix
11/05/2014 PAKISTAN - ISLAM
Bishop of Islamabad: Couple burned alive, barbaric act shrouded by a guilty silence
by Jibran Khan - Shafique Khokhar

Editor's choices
ASIA
Vigil for persecuted Christians, our teachers in the mission in the West
by Bernardo CervelleraThe "wall of indifference and cynicism" and the silence and apathy so often denounced by Pope Francis have become almost a fortress. Such persecution reflects confessional manipulation, which slams Islam as such, and ideological manipulation, which forgets what is happening in North Korea or China. An increasingly post-Christian Europe seems disinterested in Christians.
RUSSIA – CHINA
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory
by Marta AllevatoMetropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
VATICAN
Pope: We and the four new saints, witnesses of the Resurrection "where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident "Francis proclaims four religious sisters saints: one French, one Italian, two Palestinians: Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, the foundress of the Sisters of the Rosary, and the Carmelite Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Maria Bawardy). Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority present. "Abiding in Christ" and cultivating “unity among us" are essential signs of witness. Maria Bawardy, "instrument of encounter and communion with the Muslim world".

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.