Articles related to Pakistan
Catholic parents whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in the 2016 Easter Sunday attack at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Pakistan have told Lahore's Archbishop that they have forgiven the man that killed their child. Speaking with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw said: "After celebrating Holy Mass I went up to a married couple to give them my blessing. "They told me that my homily on mercy and pardon had helped them greatly, since they had lost a son in the attack in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park on Easter Sunday and that they had forgiven the suicide bomber who
While the rest of the world was busy celebrating the new year, Pakistan's land mafia and Sukkur police were planning an attack on the Christian residents of Mission Compound in Sukkur, Pakistan. According to Mr Munawar Gill a resident and an ex officer of the Hyderabad diocese, the property is owned by the Hyderabad Diocese, Church of Pakistan, but some people got false documentation and claimed a right to this property. Unfortunately acquiring such documents in exchange for some money is not a difficult task in Pakistan.
The anti-terrorist court in Pakistan has sentenced five men involved in the murders of Shama Bibi and Shezad Masih, the Christian couple burnt alive in a brick kiln in 2014. On 23 November, five men were sentenced to death and fined 200,000 rupees (approximately £1,538) each, while a further eight men were each sentenced to two years imprisonment. The sentence comes two years on from the attack on 4 November in which pregnant mother Shama Bibi and her husband Shezad Masih
Two years after the Christian couple Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi, were burned alive for alleged blasphemy on November 4, 2014 in Kot Radha Kishan, in Kasur district, the fight for justice and to punish the perpetrators of that crime continues. Michelle Chaudhry, Catholic president of the Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation, which provides legal protection and education for the couple's three children, said: "We are going ahead with the judiciary to ensure that those responsible for this heinous murder are brought to justice.
Pax Christi International has recognised the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan with the 2016 Pax Christi International Peace Award. These two organisations were chosen as representatives of the nonviolent struggle of the human rights community in Pakistan. In a country where arbitrary detention, torture, deaths occurring while in custody, forced disappearances, institutional injustices against religious minorities, and extrajudicial execution are frequently reported,
The lives of Christians living through conflict and persecution was brought vividly into focus on Saturday when speakers from Syria and Pakistan gave their testimonies at Aid to the Church in Need's annual event in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Probably few people know more about the situation on the ground in Aleppo than Sister Annie Demerjian who leads a team of volunteers that go house-to-house, providing food, shelter and medicine at great risk to their own safety. She gave a harrowing account of life in Aleppo - "its indescribable" she said. "Aleppo is a broken city where life hardly exists..
Christian leaders serving in areas plagued by persecution, terrorist violence and war will speak at an event in Chester tomorrow. The Most Rev Sebastian Shaw, the Catholic Archbishop of Lahore, is coming to the North West to raise awareness of the persecution faced by the Christian minority of Pakistan. The archbishop will make his visit just months after 72 people were massacred on Easter Sunday by a suicide bomber who targeted a Lahore children's playground used by Christian families. He will be joined by Sister Annie Demerjian, who will give an eye-witness account of the plight of civilians caught in
Pakistan's Supreme Court will decide this Thursday (October 13) whether to approve the execution of Christian woman Asia Bibi, who is has been convicted of blasphemy. Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, is calling on Pakistan to release her and for Christians to redouble their prayers for Asia. "Pakistan must revoke this death sentence, release Asia Bibi and repeal the blasphemy law" says Release International Chief Executive, Paul Robinson.
A religious Sister from Syria is to come to the UK to give first-hand testimony about life in Aleppo as part of a series of events organised by Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity helping those suffering persecution. Sister Annie Demerjian and Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan will give personal witness accounts at ACN events both in England and Scotland. In her keynote addresses, Sister Annie is expected to describe her life-threatening work providing emergency aid and spiritual support to
Many thousands of Muslim faith leaders and believers paid a visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mariamabad, in the diocese of Lahore on Monday, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Dominican priest Fr James Channan, who is head of the Peace Centre in Lahore, which promotes interfaith dialogue, said: "A message of love, tolerance and harmony comes from Mary." The Archbishop of the city, Mgr Sebastian Shaw, today on a visit to the shrine, welcomed Muslim pilgrims, and a large crowd of Pakistani Christians who were spending
The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an organisation of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference and a Pax Christi International member organisation, strongly condemns the two horrific incidents of suicide bombing in Kyber Pakhtunkwa province, i.e., the Mardan District Court bombing and the bombing in a Christian colony near Warsak Dam, Peshawar, on 2 September 2016. The prompt response by the law enforcement and security agencies saved hundreds of lives in the Christian colony in Peshawar.
Asia Bibi, a 51-year-old Pakistani Christian women sentenced to death after drinking water meant for her Muslim colleagues, will have her appeal heard by Pakistan's Supreme Court in the second week of October. The date was confirmed to International Christian Concern and it is the final legal avenue available to avoid execution. Bibi was accused of blasphemy after the incident in June 2009. In November 2010 she was sentenced to death. There has been international pressure calling for the release of the mother of five.
An anti-terrorism court in Lahore has acquitted five Christians accused of blasphemy. The case was registered on August 16, 2015 against 16 persons accused of having published material considered offensive to Islam. The court had also added charges of "inciting sectarian hatred". Among the victims there was a Protestant Christian pastor Aftab Gill of Gujrat, who published a poster with the word "rasool" for his late father Fazal Masih, founder of his community. The Muslims were offended because the term "rasool" is an attribute of the Prophet Muhammad.
ICN has received several reports from Pakistan this week of attacks on Christians from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. A 24-year-old Pakistani Christian woman was abducted by four people as she walked with her 11-year-old brother on 12 May. Marriam Mushtaq was snatched by four unidentified suspects in Bahar Colony, Lahore.
Pakistani Christians protested in front of the Lahore High Court on May 3, against the Punjab government's plans to takeover the land of four churches in order to build the Orange Line Metro Train project. The demonstrators demanded that the government review its plans, saying they would not give up their holy places. They waved placards, and were holding crosses, while chanting slogans such as: "we won't give an inch of our holy places", and "we want our rights."
Although Christians in Pakistan are suffering frequent persecution, the 95 per cent country has seen a great increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in recent years. Fr Inayat Bernard, Rector of the Santa Maria Minor Seminary in Lahore said the increase was "a sign of God's blessing" who is "always close to his people." Fr Bernard, who leads 26 young seminarians, said there were 23 priestly ordinations, including diocesan and religious priests, since the beginning of 2015 to date, and 15 new deacons who are preparing to be
An appeal has been filed to the Court of Appeal in Pakistan regarding a Christian couple Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar sentence to death for blasphemy. The two were of accused of sending blasphemous text messages and sentenced to death in 2014. A team of lawyers from the Farrukh Saif Foundation, Pakistani organization has taken on the legal defense of the couple On July 20 2013, the couple, from Gojra, in Punjab, were accused of sending blasphemous text messages and were later arrested.
An NGO in Pakistan has reported that they are assisting in the case of a young Christian woman who has been kidnapped, forced to marry and convert to Islam. Lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, head of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD Family) which offers free assistance to Christian victims of abuse said the girl, Laveeza Bibi, aged 23, was kidnapped on April 14. Two Muslims stormed into her family's house, in the district of Kasur, in Punjab, armed with guns, they threatened her parents and took her away.
In response to the horror of the bombing of families in the park at Lahore, Pakistan on Easter Sunday. Bishop Declan will preside at Mass in St Nicholas of Tolentino Church in Easton, Bristol on Saturday, 2 April. The Mass for the victims, both deceased and injured, and for the persecuted Church in Pakistan takes place at 12noon. All are invited to stand in solidarity with the Pakistan Christian community both in Pakistan and here in Bristol. Bristol's Lord Mayor, Councilor Clare Campion-Smith will be present. The Mass will be in both Urdu and English,
Pakistan's government has succumbed to seven out of ten demands made by Mumtaz Qadri supporters, who have been protesting outside government buildings in Islamabad, including demands not to amend the country's blasphemy laws. Mumtaz Qadri was executed on 29 February. On 4 January 2011 he shot dead the former Governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, an outspoken critic of the blasphemy laws who campaigned on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman currently on death row following a blasphemy conviction.
Victims of the Easter Sunday Pakistan bomb blast recovering in hospital have received a personal message of sympathy from the Pope. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described how he was going from bed to bed visiting the wounded when he received a call on his mobile phone from Vatican officials who said that they had received a message from Pope Francis who was anxious to send a greeting to those wounded and grieving. Latest reports say 72 people - 29 of them children - were killed and more than 340 were injured
Hundreds of Pakistani Christians and Muslims, gathered for a candlelight vigil last night at the gates of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park in Lahore, to remember those killed and injured in the attack on Easter Sunday. Many of the victims are women and children who were playing in the park. Although the terror group Jamaat ul Ahrar, who claimed responsibility for the attack, said it was aimed at Christians, police say many Muslims were also killed or injured. The crowds chanted slogans against the killers and those who support them.
Church leaders have expressed their concern and grief for victims of the suicide bombing at a children's playground and park in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday, which killed more than 70 people and left hundreds of parents and children injured. Most, but not all of the casualties, were Christian families celebrating Easter. The Taliban faction Jamaat ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the bombing. "We carried out the Lahore attack as Christians are our target," said spokesman Ehansullah Ehsan.
There were special prayers in churches in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Khushpur and Sargodha and in many other places, as Pakistan commemorated Shahbaz Bhatti on the 5th anniversary of his assassination by a terrorist on 2 March 2011. A Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly from 2008, he was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination in Islamabad. A Roman Catholic, he was an outspoken critic of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the
This morning, Wednesday, 24 February, the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief launched its inquiry report on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Pakistan and UK Government policy. The report challenges the Home Office's Country Information and Guidance on Pakistani Christians and Christian converts while also finding that Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus in Pakistan face a real risk of persecution in their encounters with people of other faiths or beliefs. The APPG inquiry's main findings and
Merry Christmas... this picture is from our 2015 Christmas play... the village
children performed the nativity play in the village of Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan.
This is a film which should be compulsory viewing for anyone who loves - or hates - school and education. We all think we know the story of Malala, the teenager in the Swat Valley in Pakistan; we know she defied the Taliban restrictions of girls' education and we may remember that she was shot, brought to the UK, recovered and last year was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. That is indeed a harrowing story. But there is so much more to her story
The Supreme Court of Pakistan criticized the inaction of the police in front of the lynching of the Christian couple Shahzad and Shama Masih, accused of blasphemy and killed in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab, on 4 November 2014. In the horrific incident, Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih, were attacked by a crowd who accused them of burning pages of the Qur'an. After beating the couple they incinerated their bodies in a brick kiln. Reports state that Shahbaz Masih was still alive, although badly wounded, when he was thrown into the kiln.
For the fourth year in a row, heavy flooding has left thousands homeless and many dead in Pakistan. The government says at least 86 people have died and more than 600,000 people been affected as glacial melt from the Himalayas has flowed into rivers already swollen with monsoon rains which have then joined the River Indus. Christian Aid has made an initial £50,000 available to help victims of the monsoon floods that have destroyed homes and in some cases inundating entire villages.`
The Thar Parkar Desert is situated in the south east of Pakistan in Sindh province. It covers an area of 22,000 square kilometers with an estimated population of 1.5 million and is one of the most densely populated deserts of the world. It is a place of beauty, especially after the monsoon rains..... that is, when they come, writes Fr Tomas King, an Irish Columban missionary in the Sindh.
Christian mother of five children, Asia Bibi, had her death sentence temporarily suspended by Pakistan's Supreme Court yesterday, as an appeals case against her conviction of blasphemy begins. She has been on death row in a Pakistan prison for five years. "The execution of Asia Bibi has been suspended and will remain suspended until the decision of this appeal," said lawyer Saif-ul-Malook.
For several weeks now, Pakistan - but particularly the southern Sindh province - has been in the grip of a devastating heat wave, where temperatures were daily at 48C and 49C. Nawabshah, north of Hyderabad, registered at least 49C for four days in a row; 24 May saw the highest temperature of Pakistan's heat wave: 49.5 C in Nawabshah. Since 20 June, Karachi, with an estimated population of 20 million, has been particularly badly hit and unable to cope. The authorities at various hospitals said on 28 June that the death toll has risen to 1,306 in Sindh - 1,214 in Karachi
The Catholic Church in England and Wales has expressed its hope that the British government will encourage Pakistan's authorities to tackle escalating persecution of the country's religious minorities. Following reports that Christian homes and a Church were attacked in Sandha last weekend, Bishop Declan Lang who chairs the Catholic Bishops' Conference Department for International Affairs stated: "Recent reports of mob attacks against the Christian community in Sandha are a tragic reminder that life is only becoming harder for Pakistan's religious minorities.
The Christian quarter of Lahore was attacked by a mob after a mentally handicapped man was accused of desecrating the Qur'an. Young Christian man Humayun Faisal Masih was accused of blasphemy after burning some newspaper. According to his accusers the papers contained verses from the Qur'an. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described the events of Sunday evening (24th May) to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. He was alerted to the mob's actions at seven o'clock, just after they had blocked the traffic in Sanda, a mainly Christian quarter of Lahore
A court in Pakistan has officially indicted 106 people for the murder of a Christian couple. Shahzad and Shama Masih, were lynched and burned alive after being accused of blasphemy in November 2014 in the city of Kot Radha Kishan, in Punjab. The couple had four children and Shama was pregnant. A Muslim mob who accused them of burning pages of the Koran, beat them and then threw them both alive into the flames of a brick oven. The incident provoked international outrage. According to the reconstruction based on some evidence obtained by the court,
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has expressed its solidarity with the Ismaili Muslim community, after an attack left 47 dead - including senior citizens, women and children - and 24 injured. According to reports, six unidentified assailants on motorbikes opened fired on a bus yesterday, (Wednesday 13th May), which was going to the Shi'a group's place of worship in Karachi. The Catholic Church in Pakistan's National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) strongly condemned the attack.
At least 80 Catholic churches, schools and institutions in Pakistan face closure soon, if they do not comply with rigorous new security measures ordered by the government. In the wake of the suicide bombs in 15 March at St Johns Catholic Church and Christ Church Anglican church in Lahore which killed 17 people and left more than 70 injured, the government if Pakistan has ordered at Christian churches, schools and institutions to protect themselves from further attacks by installing equipment ouch as body scanners, speed bumps and razor wire. They must also form and train emergency response teams to cope in the event of any further attacks.
A petition calling for the release of a Christian woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy in Pakistan has topped half a million signatures. The online petition calls for the release of mother-of-five Asia Bibi, who was condemned to death in November 2010. She was convicted of blasphemy after a heated conversation with Muslim co-workers. The campaign received a surge in support last week, with the number of signatures rising to more than 570,000. The Change.org petition was organised by university student Emily Clarke, who was moved by the plight of Asia Bibi, the first woman to be
Pakistan's Prime Minister must take part of the blame for yesterday's deadly attacks on Sunday churchgoers, according to the leader of the country's Catholics - who has accused the government of ignoring security. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Kararchi accused Nawaz Sharif and Chief Ministers of leaving minority faith communities open to attack by failing to act on a 2014 order from the Supreme Court to provide security in all places of worship.
In the wake of church bomb attacks in Lahore, human rights campaign group Release International is calling on Pakistan to step up security for Christians to prevent mob violence. As provincial governments declare a day of mourning and protesters clash with police, Release urges Pakistan to urgently address the culture of intolerance that leads to church attacks. The campaign is urging Pakistan to step up security for its vulnerable Christian minority, amid concerns that Sunday's terror attacks against churches could lead to inter-communal violence.
Bomb attacks on two churches today have killed at least 14 people and wounded 68 more in Lahore, Pakistan. The twin attacks took place on churches only a few hundred metres apart from one another in one of the largest Christian neighbourhoods of the city, Youhanabad. One of the churches was the Catholic church of St John, the other was the Anglican Christ Church. In his address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square before the Angelus, Pope Francis said: "With pain, with much pain, I learned of the terrorist attacks today against two churches in the city Lahore in Pakistan, which have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.
Around 300 Muslim students, armed with iron bars and sticks protesting against the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo for publishing blasphemous cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, ransacked a Christian boys’ school in the city of Bannu, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in northern Pakistan, demanding its closure. The protesting students entered the Panel High School after jumping its outer walls and forcibly opened the gates. Four Christian students were injured in the attack.
The Catholic Church has condemned the attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 132 children and nine staff yesterday. “This is a barbaric, inhuman and cowardly act,” Cecil Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said. “It is beyond imagination how innocent children of army personnel could be targeted like this. The only path, the only answer to the terrible massacre
Christian Aid and its partner organisations across South Asia are calling for the leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to put caste-based discrimination at the heart of the agenda of a vital summit in Nepal this week. After a lull of three years, member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will meet in Kathmandu on 26 and 27 November to discuss ‘deeper integration for peace and prosperity’.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) joins human rights groups in Pakistan in calling for the an impartial inquiry into the lynching of Christian couple Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi on 4 November, and for those responsible to be held to account, in order to end the impunity surrounding violence against religious minorities. On 4 November, Shehzad Masih and pregnant mother Shama Bibi were lynched and burned to death in a brick kiln in the village of Kot Radha Kishan, close to the industrial city of Kasur in Punjab province.
A senior Dominican in Pakistan condemned the murder of a man and his pregnant wife for blasphemy as the worst religiously motivated hate crime in the country’s history. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr James Channan OP said: “The barbaric act by fanatic Pakistani Muslims of burning alive a poor Christian couple is a crime against humanity. It is the worst crime in the history of Pakistan committed in the name of religion.” On Tuesday 4 November, a mob killed Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih,
More than 50 Members of Parliament, from across the political spectrum, have written to the Pakistani authorities asking for an urgent review in the case of Asia Bibi. In a joint letter, authored by Rehman Chishti MP, the 54 British MPs say they feel strongly that a miscarriage of justice has taken place in the case of the Christian mother of five children, who has been sentenced to death. They call on the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and the Chief Justice, Nasir-Ul-Mulk, to consider this case as a matter of urgency.
The former secretary of the Pakistani Bishops Justice and Peace Commission has appealed for the Pakistani government to protect people suffering from religious discrimination. Peter Jacob said: "The federal and provincial ministries should take the responsibility to monitor, protect and defend cases against people accused of blasphemy, including that of Asia Bibi." "The governments of the country are responsible for allowing the abuse of the blasphemy law, giving rise to a climate of widespread insecurity,
The Lahore High Court rejected an appeal and confirmed Asia Bibi's death sentence on Thursday morning. During the four hour morning hearing, before a panel chaired by Judge Anwar ul Haq, the defense submitted its written arguments that demolish the prosecution framework, exposing the witnesses lack of credibility and the obvious false accusations. Defence lawyer Naeem Shakir said: "The judge held the allegations of the two Muslim women, who witnessed the alleged blasphemy committed by Asia, valid and credible."
Pakistani Christian leader Hendry Masih, an MP of Balochistan, was killed on Saturday, 14 June, by his bodyguard in Quetta.
The incident has generated outrage and dismay among Christian community, religious minorities and the civic community. Masih was known and appreciated as an activist for the rights of religious minorities. He was shot by his bodyguard for reasons which are still unclear, and taken to hospital in critical condition, where he died as a result of his injuries.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is currently visiting Anglican leaders in Pakistan, has said the Christians of Pakistan are a people under siege and joined calls for their churches to be protected and for them to be able to worship in safety. “Freedom of worship is a universal human right around the world, and all countries need to pay attention to that,” he said. Meanwhile, condemning the "revolting lynching" of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death by her family in front of hundreds of people outside the Lahore high court,
The first hearing of the appeal process for Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy has been scheduled for 27 May, Fides reports. The case will be discussed in front of a panel of judges of the Lahore High Court, led by Judge Anwar-Ul- Haq. A statement from her defence team says: “While Asia has been languishing in Multan women's prison for over four and a half years - from February 2010 to today - the judiciary of Lahore, has postponed the hearings four times after coming under pressure from radical Islamic
Given that three Christian people in Pakistan have been sentence to death for blasphemy in the last three weeks, what I will say about believer encountering believer in Pakistan has a special sensitivity. You will be aware of the case of a Catholic believer in the Punjab, Asia Bibi, an illiterate 35 year old married woman and mother, who politely declined the invitation of Muslim believers to change her religion and become a Muslim, with the result that she has been found guilt of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Last week in Lahore, Sawan Masih was found guilty
Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian man who was convicted of blasphemy charges and sentenced to death on 27 March, filed an appeal against his conviction in the Lahore High Court on 1 April. Masih was accused of blasphemy under Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code on 8 March 2013. As news of the accusation spread, a mob of thousands targeted the Christian-majority area of Joseph Colony, Badami Bagh, Lahore, torching an estimated 198 properties on 9 March 2013.
A Christian road sweeper from Lahore, Pakistan, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. Judges passed sentence on Sawan Masih in a hearing held in private on Thursday, due to the 'sensitive nature¹ of the case. They also fined him 200,000 Rupees (about £1,200). Father-of-three Sawan is from Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore. He was arrested after being accused of blasphemy following a row over property with a Muslim friend in March 2013.
The first hearing of the appeal for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman under sentence of death for blasphemy, has again been postponed. This time her accuser 'the counterpart' did not appear in the courtroom. "The judges were calm and wanted to examine the case. The Court will not tolerate such strategies", Asia’s defense lawyers said. "We have solid arguments and we are ready to present them. We remain very confident, from a legal point of view", the lawyers explain. "The fears are all on the other side".
After two postponements, the appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman unjustly accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy is set for Wednesday 26 March. Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir, head of her defense team is preparing the points of the defense with the aim to prove that "the charges against her have always been false". The trial has been postponed twice and the Court administration has been on strike recently, but the lawyer says he has "high hopes" for Wednesday's hearing. Meanwhile, he said, Asia Bibi is in the women's prison in Multan
The first hearing of the appeal trial of Asia Bibi Noreen, scheduled for Monday morning, 17 March, in front of the High Court in Lahore, was postponed due to the absence of one of the judges. But Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir, head of the defense team said he was convinced Asia has "a good chance for a full acquittal".In June 2009, Asia was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries, after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them.
Lord Alton gave the following lecture in Brentwood on 12 March 2014. Barely a day passes without reports of some new atrocity being committed against Christians. These are four stories from the last few days from just one country – Egypt: 1. Arabic media has reported the murder of a Syrian Christian family who had been living in Alexandria. A 44-year-old man, his 35-year-old wife, their six-year-old son and the wife’s brother were stabbed to death at their home on 17 February. The attackers set the house on fire.
A large group of Muslim extremists has destroyed a church that was under construction in Okara, Punjab Pakistan. The walls of the church had been completed, on land donated by a local Christian resident, Akber Masih. When a cross was placed in front of the main gate of the small construction yard a mob arrived with bulldozers and demolished the building. The faithful filed a complaint to the police, but the NGO 'Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan', said the perpetrators have not been arrested - thanks to the political influence they have.
A Christian human rights campaigner who left Pakistan has described how he received death threats while pursuing justice for his murdered brother. Dr Paul Bhatti gave an impassioned plea on behalf of suffering minority groups in Pakistan in interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, after news broke that he had left his country for Italy. Denying that he had fled the country for his own safety, the former Pakistani minister of national harmony and minority affairs said his visit to Italy was pre-arranged and added that he would soon return to his country
The man appointed to be archbishop of Pakistan's largest diocese has said he wishes to dedicate his ministry to the cause of justice and peace – which he says are desperately needed in his country. Calling on people to pray that he has "courage and faith" as he takes up his post, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said there was an urgent need to "conscientise" people about harmony and civil rights. Speaking from Lahore, Archbishop Shaw, a Franciscan,
Two suicide bombers attacked a 130-year-old church in the north of Pakistan, killing more than 80 people. A few hours after the explosion Pakistan's Catholic bishops issued a statement condemning the murders which took place at All Saints Anglican Church yesterday (22 September). In the statement Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, president of Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, said: "The attacking of innocent men, women and children while praying in the church is a shameful act of cowardice."
More than 250 Christian families have been threatened and thrown out from their homes in the village Chak 31 in Khanewal district, in southern Punjab. A report drawn up by two human rights groups said: "What happened in South Punjab reflects the increase of violence and abuses against religious minorities in Pakistan" and "recalls the serious episode of the attack on Joseph Colony, a Christian area of Lahore, which happened two months ago".
The UK head of an international Catholic charity has attacked a government report on human rights violations, saying it "glosses over" the growing problem of persecution against Christians. Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2012 Report on Human Rights and Democracy published this week "downplays the scale of Christian persecution". Although he praised the FCO for considering religious freedom issues in its report,
Fear and violence will not prevent Christians of Pakistan to celebrate with great devotion, and massive presence, Easter. Mgr Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Episcopal Conference, said: "At Easter, our churches will be packed. The faith of the faithful is alive and strong: violence or attacks, such as that of Joseph Colony in Lahore, have the effect of strengthening it even more." Archbishop Coutts is convinced that Christians in Pakistan will continue to give a strong testimony: "Let us not lose hope, we know that the Lord is with us
Government authorities in Pakistan stand accused of failing to protect a vulnerable community who fled their Christian quarter and watched helplessly as their homes were robbed and set ablaze. Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore blamed the provincial Government of the Punjab for failing to act when a dispute between two men spiralled into attack in which a 3,000-strong mob attacked the city’s Joseph Colony, a Christian quarter where 180 homes and two churches were burnt. Nobody was killed.
A joint call for religious freedom around the world was made by representatives of different faith groups at a rally in central London marking the second anniversary of the killing of Pakistan Cabinet minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian lay figures spoke out against human rights violations at an event climaxing in a protest march towards Trafalgar Square where speakers told crowds of shoppers and tourists about the importance of religious freedom.
An under-age Christian girl was kidnapped, raped and tortured by two influential Muslims, Fides reports. Fouzia Bibi, 15, from the village of Roday, near Kasur in Punjab, comes from a very poor family, and works as a farm labourer with her father, Malooka Masih, and with her brothers. On 25 January Fouzia Bibi was sent on an errand by her employers. On the way back two Muslims armed with pistols, Sher Muhammad and Shabir Ali, influential people of the territory, kidnapped and, imprisoned her in a room, raped and tortured her repeatedly.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a final attempt to reopen Rimsha Masih’s blasphemy case, bringing a close to the legal proceedings on the matter. On 20 November 2012, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered that the case against Rimsha Masih, the young Christian girl accused of blasphemy the previous August, be thrown out. Her accuser’s lawyers filed an appeal against the decision last week and this was heard yesterday by a bench of three judges, including the Chief Justice himself.
Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi is gripped by fear after a wave of killings by the Taliban, the Archbishop of Karachi, Mgr Joseph Coutts said in an interview with Fides. Archbishop Coutts said that ways and strategies to stop the violence are urgently required. He said: "I am very sad and worried because every day we have a record of 10-12 people killed by violence in the city. I have visited many families affected by this senseless violence, I blessed them, ensuring the support of the Church."
Caritas has launched a three-month emergency programme to help families following severe flooding in Pakistan. The programme will cost over £870,000. Heavy rains in August and September hit the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan and have left hundreds of dead and tens of thousands of people homeless. Caritas in Pakistan will provide tents, blankets, food and medical assistance for the next three months to many people who are in difficulty.
The provincial government of Pakistan’s Sindh region has presented land in Karachi to religious sisters in appreciation of their educational work in the country. Governor Ishrat ul Ebad of Sindh presented the 99-year lease papers for 1.5 acres of land to the Jesus and Mary Sisters during a ceremony on 24 September at Government House, Karachi. Sisters Mary Langan and Berchmanns Conway received the papers on behalf of the sisters. The land is in central Karachi and has been given by the government as a free gift in recognition of the educational work of
The court appeal of Rimsha Masih, a 14 year old Christian girl with learning difficulties accused of blasphemy has been postponed to 17 October - much to the concern of her supporters. No evidence has been filed against her, but three out four witnesses who came forward and accused an Imam of planting evidence that incriminated her, have now all retracted their testimonies, claiming police had forced them to lie. Rimsha was arrested and kept in an adult prison for more than three weeks
There are signs that Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law could be relaxed, according to the Lahore-based president of the Catholic Church’s National Commission of Justice and Peace. Speaking during a visit to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Emmanuel Yousaf said that while there was no prospect of the law being abolished, there was increasing discussion in the media about the need to modify it – even by Islamic clerics. Fr Yousaf, whose Commission for Justice and Peace supports those accused of blasphemy and their families,
Church leaders in Pakistan are calling for calm after a mob armed with guns and fire-bombs desecrated a Lutherna church in Mardan, north-west Pakistan, in retaliation for the controversial anti-Muslim film. Partners of Release International, which serves the persecuted church, visited the scene of the attack, carried out after Friday prayers on September 21. They say a mob of up to 1500 threw highly flammable chemical bombs into the St Paul's church complex in Mardan.
As the world's attention is fixed firmly on the test case of Imam Chisti, accused of tampering with evidence to implicate a young Christian girl, under false blasphemy charges; the BPCA learn's that Younis Masih in custody for a Blasphemy case as far back as 2005, is to have his appeal hearing next week. Moreover, Asia Bibi the emblem for the Pakistani freedom and justice campaign - labeled the Rosa Parks of the Islamic World - is now to have an appeal hearing for her existing death sentence next month.
Rimsha Masih, the young Christian girl who was detained on blasphemy charges in Pakistan, was today granted bail by the court after more than three weeks behind bars. The decision was reached after a lengthy hearing dominated by challenges from the prosecution lawyers, regarding the validity of official medical reports on Rimsha’s age and mental capacity. A large bail sum has been guaranteed, however Rimsha’s actual release is expected to be delayed. Her defence team now intends to push for full dismissal.
A number of Muslim leaders in Pakistan have called for the release of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl with learning difficulties, accused of blasphemy. Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a Salafi Muslim leader, magazine editor and head of an Islamic fundamentalist political party which has representation in parliament, said: "If she is found to be a minor, she has to be released, and if the allegations are false, the guilty must be punished. No one has the right to take justice into their own hands. The blasphemy law needs procedural amendments to prevent abuse."
The plight of Christians persecuted for their faith was the focus of prayer, song and reflection at the first-ever Night of Witness held at Westminster Cathedral. Bishops from the UK and overseas, led the event on 18 May, at which Christians from countries marked by persecution played central roles in raising awareness of ongoing acts of religious oppression.
The following is an address given by Columban Father Robert McCulloch on 11 April in Switzerland to Pakistan’s diplomats to the Holy See. It followed a dinner given by Mr Muhammad Saleem Bhounr, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Holy See, to honour Fr McCulloch’s reception of the Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.
Catholic band Ooberfuse, have written a special song to honour the memory of those who lose their lives in defence of the marginalised and oppressed. They have been asked to perform it at a peace rally in London on 10 March to commemorate Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan government minister who was gunned down last year after speaking out against Pakistan’s
On 2 March 2011, aged 42, Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities, was brutally murdered. His assassination not only robbed Pakistan's National Assembly of a dedicated, honest, and able politician but his death also threw into sharp relief the plight of Pakistan's minorities, whose fearless champion he had become.
Australian born Fr Robert McCulloch, of the Columban Missionary Society, has been awarded the Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam, the highest civilian award that can be given by the Government of Pakistan to foreign nationals. It carries the citation, "For services to Health, Education, and Inter-Faith Relations”. Fr Robert McCulloch worked in Pakistan for over 30 years, until December 2011.
A peace concert and rally in London will mark the first anniversary of the assassination of Pakistan politician Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed after speaking out against the country's blasphemy laws. The event on Saturday 10 March will commemorate the life and work of Mr Bhatti and will be calling for changes to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which impose sentences
The Punjab government in Pakistan stands accused of 'brutal injustice' for sending bulldozers into a Church owned site and demolishing homes for poor, elderly and homeless people, a school for poor girls and a church. Poverty-stricken families living on the two-acre site in Lahore were woken at 6.30am asked to evacuate their homes.
The Archdiocese of Lahore in Pakistan has denied reports that a 24-year-old Catholic burned pages of the Koran. Allegations that Khuram Masih destroyed part of the Muslim holy book are baseless – and many media reports of the case are inaccurate – a spokesman for the archdiocese told Aid to the Church in Need.
During his welcoming speech to twelve new diplomats to the Holy See on Wednesday, Pope Benedict advised them to see that humanity's growing interdependence in the era of globalisation means "we are all responsible for everything".."Humanity today must strive towards the goal of integral human development", he said.
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has joined protests condemning a NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month. Holding pro army banners and national flags, more than 50 protesters from several Catholic institutions, including two priests and 10 friars, shouted slogans, prayed and lit candles for the “faithful martyrs” at
People of all faiths and none will be taking part in a protest march in London against Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws on Saturday, 2 July. The march will call for a change to Pakistan's blasphemy laws which have been cited as the cause of 14 separate attacks on Christians over the last two months.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Pakistan has called for the arrest of the US pastor whose decision to burn the Qur'an triggered protests climaxing with the deaths of at least 24 people in Afghanistan. Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore condemned the desecration of the Qur'an carried out by Pastor Wayne Sapp under the supervision of Pastor Terry Jones.
Asia Bibi, the Christian woman in Pakistan condemned to death accused of blasphemy and imprisoned in Sheikhpura jail for over a year and a half has been moved into an isolation cell, Fides has learnt. In November there were reports that she had been freed, but these proved to be false. Asia's husband, Ashiq Masih, has just visited her and confirmed that the prison authorities,
Christian and other minorities in Pakistan are being warned to be on their guard in the wake of the assassination of a leading politician and avoid doing anything that might incite violence. Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described how across Pakistan people were “shocked and horrified” by the death of Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
The New Year has begun in Pakistan with a stark reminder to Christians of the “sword of Damocles” hanging over their heads in the form of the country’s draconian Blasphemy Laws. The mass rallies by Muslim religious political parties on New Year’s Eve demonstrate more than words can the strength of resistance that will face any attempt to reform or abolish the laws
The governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, 66, a leading human rights campaigner was killed today by one of his own bodyguards, in the capital, Islamabad. Mr Taseer was shot several times at point blank range as he was getting into his car at a popular market.
Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has been freed today, according to a report from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, (CLAAS). Asia was given a pardon Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. She has gone into hiding now over fears for her safety. See editor's note **
Christian leaders in India have condemned the death sentence handed down to a Catholic woman for blasphemy in Pakistan. “It is a condemnable thing in the contemporary world,” said Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
For the first time in history, Pakistan has sentenced to death a Christian woman for blasphemy. The Court of Sessions passed the death sentence on Asia Bibi on 7 November. Asia, who is 45 with five children, was accused under the blasphemy laws of passing derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.
They go out to the refugees in boats, the only means to help the people of Kot Addu, near Muzaffargahr, South Punjab), an area still flooded by the waters. The volunteers of the Community of Sant'Egidio – now present for ten years in Pakistan, with a network of over 200 members in six cities - are preparing aid (food, water, tents, hygiene kits) to be delivered in the coming days
NGOs in Pakistan report that a dam to save land has diverted floodwater towards areas inhabited by Christians. In Punjab, near Multan, inhabitants of the Christian village of Khokharabad near Muzaffargarh, a city of 250,000 inhabitants, in the southern Punjab Province, central Pakistan, suffered severe damage from deliberately diverted water.
A senior police official in Pakistan has admitted that security forces failed in their duty to protect the victims of anti-Christian violence in Gojra one year ago. He was speaking to almost 2,500 people who had gathered on Sunday, to mark the first anniversary of some of the Pakistan’s worst anti-Christian violence.
CAFOD has pledged an initial £100,000 in emergency funds in the wake of flooding that is devastating north-west Pakistan. And as the country braces itself for further monsoon storms the agency is working with partner organisations on the ground to support those most affected.
More than 1,500 people have been killed by landslides and floods caused by the most intense monsoon rains in the past 30 years, in the regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir, the Missionary News Service reports. Some 312 mm. of rain have fallen in 36 hours, according to the Pakistani meteorological service,
Two young Christians accused of blasphemy have been sentenced to life imprisonment by courts in Pakistan. Archbishop Rufin Anthony, the new Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi said that yesterday Qamar David, a Christian from Lahore, who has been in prison since 2006,
There is calm on the streets, but tension remains high in the city of Karachi in southern Pakistan, where on Sunday, a group of 150 Muslims attacked Christian churches, shops, and homes in the area of Pahar Ganj, a predominantly Christian neighborhood in the city.
Catholics in northern Pakistan are preparing for quiet, scaled-back Christmas celebrations this year, as militant attacks continue to terrorize the country. "Most of the scheduled programs are canceled due to this situation," said Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore.
Communal tension is rising yet again in the Punjab province of Pakistan, where crowds of Christians took to the streets following the death in custody of a Catholic man accused of blasphemy against Islam. Police say Fanish Masih, 24, who used the surname Robert, hanged himself, but rights activists and Christians
The World Council of Churches has called on the government of Pakistan to guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in the country. In a public statement on 'The misuse of the Blasphemy Law and the security of religious minorities in Pakistan',
Although the Pakistan army is staging a major offensive against militants in the Swat Valley, the Taleban has begun a new massive intimidation campaign against Christian communities and institutions and other religious minorities all over the country, Fides reports.
Sri Lankan Catholics are praying for their cricket heroes injured in an attack in Pakistan on Tuesday.