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(Voice of the Persecuted) Pakistani Christian brothers, Qasir (also shared as Qaisar) and Amoon Ayub, have been sentenced to death in the Talagang District Jhelum court after being accused of blasphemy. Both brothers have been held under the charge of 295-A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code in the District Jail Jhelum since their arrest in 2014. Their case was heard on December 13, but due to security reasons, the brothers were not in the courtroom and told of the death sentence ruling from inside the jail. Qasir is married with three children, while Amoon is also married and a teacher at the Cathedral School in Lahore.
The allegations surfaced when they were accused of posting disrespectful material on their website, reported AsiaNews. However, Qasir said he closed his account in 2009 but one of his Muslim friends, Shahryar Gill, somehow managed to restore the website and kept ownership in Qasir’s name.
He had worked at the international office of the Raja Centre in Lahore. While at work in 2010, an argument broke out between his friends and one of them made a comment about another’s sister. The ‘friend’ blamed Qasir and warned him that it was a serious matter in Pakistan. Shortly after, Qasir started to receive death threats from them and he went into hiding. When the situation deteriorated he and his brother fled to Singapore without telling their wives. After a month, they returned to Pakistan and Amoon shared the whole story with his his wife. Yet the situation remained tense, so they left again this time for Thailand. Unable to survive there for very long, they went back to Pakistan in 2012.
After four years on the run they were arrested. A friend told Qasir that the authorities were looking for him. On November 10, 2014, while Amoon was on his way to work, the police detained him. They questioned him about his brother and said a case had been registered against him. Qasir told Amoon to stay hidden. Qasir was later arrested and sent to District jail Jhelum. Fearing for his safety, Amoon again tried to flee the country but was detained by Immigrant Police at the Lahore Airport. Later police sent him to Jhelum District Jail for the same offense as his brother.
Amoon’s wife did all she could to get her husband released, but has failed. She approached the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) for assistance.
(CLAAS) represented Qasir and Amoon and told Voice of the Persecuted that they will challenge the sentence before the Lahore High Court Bench at Rawalpindi as soon as possible. The group believes judges hearing blasphemy cases are threatened by religious fanatics and why those accused of blasphemy are convicted.
CLAAS-UK Director, Nasir Saeed told Voice of the Persecuted,
“This is a very unfortunate situation as because of threats from hardliners, lower courts pass their responsibility to the higher court and then it takes years to prove the accused innocent. In this case the trial Judge did not apply his judicious mind and convicted the accused in a very casual manner.
We have seen this in the recent case of Asia Bibi, who was similarly convicted by the lower court and it took her years to reach to the Supreme Court to get justice. I am afraid now Qasir and Amoon will have to wait years to get justice. It is a sad reality that the present government has no intention even to talk about or to take steps to stop the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law. Pakistani President Dr Arif Alvi has already said that the government would not amend the law. This means the killing of innocent people will continue despite growing opposition to the law around the world.”
He shared that the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has been acknowledged by the world for his recent decision of opening the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikhs. However, he has no plans for Pakistan’s own minorities. Nasir added that minorities feared Khan’s statements of making Pakistan a Medina-like state.
“Very recently, his statement that there is no mention of Jesus in history, hurting the feelings of Christians not just in Pakistan, but throughout the world,” he also lamented.
The sentence was handed down only two days after America put Pakistan on a religious freedom blacklist, and is expected to again draw attention to the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.
Qasir’s son (14yr.) has been experiencing extreme anxiety since his father’s incarceration. Please keep these brothers and their loved ones in your prayers.
(Voice of the Persecuted) For 7 years, Asia Bibi has clung to Jesus as she sits in a Pakistani prison facing a death sentence. The Christian mother of 5 upholds she is innocent of the charge, but her court appeals have been postponed to an undetermined date. Extremists have promised to kill Bibi if she is released from prison and her death sentence not upheld. Those exonerated of blasphemy charges are at great risk, even murdered by radicals when released. Christian Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also murdered for opposing the blasphemy laws and advocating on her behalf. Some extremists blame her for his death.
Note: Muslims consist of an overwhelming 96 percent of the population in Pakistan. Pakistan’s blasphemy law is often misused by Muslims to attack Christians and other religious minorities to settle personal issues.
Recently Asia was listed as one of the nominees for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The Prize is an initiative of the EU Parliament and is awarded to individuals or groups battling to defend fundamental human rights. Describing Bibi’s nomination, Polish ECR member Anna Fotyga said,
“Her behaviour and dignity in prison all these years is the best proof of her being able to present the dignity of a defender of human rights in the face of the worse fate. We look forward to a final sentence from the supreme court eventually acquitting her.”
Though Bibi is not on the updated short list, her initial nomination brought renewed attention on Pakistan’s unfair blasphemy laws.
Read this OP-ED by Kaleem Dean:
Here in Pakistan, Asia Bibi remains a Christian prisoner of faith. Yet as her seventh year on death row draws to a close – it seems that the outside world has not forgotten about her. For she has been nominated for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2017.
The Prize is an initiative of the EU Parliament and is awarded to those individuals or groups battling to defend fundamental human rights. Asia Bibi is in good company. Among this year’s nominees are: a Guatemalan human rights campaigner, two members of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer and a Burundian human rights activist.
Asia Bibi has suffered long and hard. Her status as a prisoner of faith was taken up by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a political group that enjoys strong presence within the EU Parliament. And it is this backing that has made her a serious contender for the Sakharov Prize. SEE MORE (recommended)
Pray for Pakistan
- Pray for our sister, Asia Bibi
- Pray for God’s healing power
- Pray for God’s mercy
- Pray for the light of Christ to shine through this darkness
- Pray for comfort, knowledge, wisdom and guidance
Intelligence reports indicate a conspiracy to kill her in prison.
LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Fears are growing over the security of the first Christian woman in Pakistan sentenced to death for “blasphemy” following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated her biggest advocate.
Qadri was executed by hanging on Feb. 29 for the Jan. 4, 2011 assassination of Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer, who had criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and advocated for the release of Aasiya Noreen, widely known as Asia Bibi. She has been on death row since she was convicted in 2010 of blaspheming during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
A senior Punjab government official confided to Morning Star News that Noreen’s security had been beefed up following intelligence reports that Islamist groups are conspiring to get her killed inside prison to avenge the hanging of Qadri. Taseer had called the country’s controversial blasphemy statute “a black law” and demanded freedom for the Christian mother of two children and stepmother to three others.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media, the senior government source said that there was already a bounty on Noreen’s head of approximately 50 million rupees (US$$471,000), and that now that Islamist groups were calling for her swift execution, the government was exercising extreme caution to protect her.
“The government is doing its best to keep Noreen safe,” the official said. “Only her husband is allowed to meet her in jail, and she has been told to cook her own food to prevent any attempt at poisoning her meals. All guards deployed for her security have been carefully vetted by intelligence agencies and other security outfits to ensure that they are not extremists in their belief.”
He added that the government would not succumb to Islamists’ pressure at any cost.
“Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging is a message to all those who take the law into their own hands in the name of religion,” the official said.
Islamic extremists feted Qadri, showered with rose petals at his trial, as a hero and martyr, and his funeral last week brought up to 150,000 people into the streets of Rawalpindi, many chanting for Noreen to be hanged.
On Thursday (March 3), the chief cleric of Islamabad’s ultra-extremist Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, called on the government to execute “the blasphemer Asia Bibi as soon as possible and not bow to international pressure.”
Islamist pressure is growing every day, said a Christian activist who requested anonymity.
“The other day gold traders in Lahore announced that they would weigh Qadri’s father in gold on March 27, the day the assassin’s 40-day mourning completes, to acknowledge his service to Islam and its prophet,” the activist said. “I believe that the underlying message for Islamist youth is that their families will be taken care of properly if they kill any alleged blasphemer, particularly Noreen.”
Much prayer is needed for Noreen and other victims of the blasphemy law, he said.
“You never know, but the increasing pressure on the government could also have an effect on the hearing of her appeal in the Supreme Court,” he added.
Noreen’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, said she is being held in isolation and under strict security.
“But calls for her speedy execution have increased the risk to her life manifold,” he said.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone convicted of blasphemy, but anyone charged or accused of insulting Islam risks a violent death at the hands of vigilantes. A Christian laborer and his wife were thrown into the furnace of a brick kiln in 2014 after being wrongly accused of throwing pages of the Quran into the garbage.
Critics, including European governments, assert the blasphemy laws are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or death by hanging.
Concerns for Noreen’s safety come as a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber on Monday (March 7) detonated explosives in a courthouse in Charsadda, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, killing at least 17 people, including policemen and a woman. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, saying in a statement that the attack was carried out to “avenge” the execution of Qadri.
Most of those killed were from the Barelvi movement within Islam, a relatively moderate group said to oppose violence, though Qadri’s execution had also upset Barelvis. No Christians were reported to have died in the attack.
Surge in Blasphemy Cases
An alliance of hundreds of lawyers is behind a rise in prosecutions of blasphemy cases in Punjab, according to a recent report.
The alliance, Tehreek-e-Khatam-e-Nabuvat (Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood), offers free legal advice to complainants and has packed courtrooms with representatives, a tactic critics say is designed to help it gain convictions.
The stated mission of the Khatam-e-Nubuwwat lawyers’ forum and its leader, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or its prophet, Muhammad, is charged, tried and executed.
Since Khatam-e-Nubuwwat was founded 15 years ago, the number of criminal blasphemy cases filed in Punjab, the group’s home base and Pakistan’s most populous province, tripled to 336 by 2014, according to police figures. It fell to 210 in 2015 as stricter provincial rules were applied, but critics said the number was still too high.
The same group prosecuted Noreen and later defended Qadri during his trial. The Islamist lawyers are now rallying religious groups to call for Noreen’s execution.
Napolean Qayyum, a Christian rights activist, told Morning Star News that he wouldn’t be surprised if the forum’s lawyers storm the Supreme Court during the hearing of Noreen’s appeal against her death sentence.
“Fear and intimidation is the extremists’ greatest weapon, and they might use such tactics to intimidate the judges and pressure them into upholding Noreen’s execution,” he said, adding that fears for Noreen’s security inside the prison were well founded as thousands of Qadri’s supporters are baying for her blood to “avenge” their hero’s death.
“We just hope that the government and the court do not cower under Islamists’ pressure,” he said. “Noreen has been suffering in jail for nearly six years; it’s about time that she is judged fairly by the court. We urge the government to take notice of the provocative announcements being made by religious groups. Inciting people to resort to violence is a criminal offense, and the government must not spare religious leaders who are encouraging Muslim youths to follow in Qadri’s footsteps and kill ‘blasphemers.’”
Who: Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter
Their Crime: Encouraging the Church to be Strong and Endure the Government’s Persecution.
The Penalty: EXECUTION or life in prison.
Voice of the Persecuted has joined the Save Sudan Pastors Coalition, adding our VOICE for their release. And to call on the government of Sudan to cease the wrongful detention of Christians and pastors.
Pastor Yat Michael Ruot was arrested by Sudan’s dreaded National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Dec. 21, 2014. He was a guest preacher at Khartoum’s Bahri Evangelical Church when NISS agents arrested him for encouraging the church to be strong and endure the government’s persecution.
Pastor Peter Yen Reith was arrested after he inquired of the Sudanese authorities and expressed concern for his friend, Pastor Michael. Michael and Peter are from South Sudan. Michael is 49 years old, married and has two young children. Peter is 39 years old, married and the father of a two year-old girl.
For two months following their arrest, Michael and Peter were secretly detained and held on unknown charges. They weren’t allowed to speak with lawyers and their families didn’t know where they were – which is in violation of international human rights laws.
Four months after their arrest, they were officially charged with “undermining the constitutional system”, “waging war against the State”, and “espionage” all of which carry the death penalty – which in Sudan usually means hanging. They were also charged with “inciting organized groups”, “offending Islamic beliefs,” and “blasphemy” which call for imprisonment and whipping.
The trial was originally scheduled to start on May 14 but was postponed until May 19 because the prosecutor’s witness from the NISS failed to appear. The trial has since been postponed again in order to give the government more time to find evidence and build a case.
Sudanese officials are known mass murderers. Sudan’s air force bombs innocent Christian civilians in the Nuba Mountains – EVERY DAY. They’ve already been indicted by the International Criminal Court on three counts of genocide for killing hundreds of thousands, even millions of Christians.
Sudan is arguably the worst nation in the world for persecuting Christians. But when the world speaks out, Sudan listens.
Sudan is striving to improve their international reputation for human rights in order to accomplish their heinous political and economic agenda. They’re motivated to avoid negative publicity and will respond more favorably to Michael and Peter’s case if the world speaks up on their behalf. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE … just like we did last year for Meriam Ibraheem.
The opposite is also true. Pastors Michael and Peter will likely perish for their faith if we remain silent.
WILL YOU SPEAK FOR THESE MEN OF GOD?
Proverbs 31:8 (KJV)
Open thy mouth for the dumb [the mute, those silenced] in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
We are bound together as family in Christ. Let us stand with these dear brothers and let us keep them and the nation of Sudan constant in our prayers. Act now! Please do not delay, be their VOICE. We cannot sit idly by while a part of the Body is suffering!
Sign the petition to automatically send a letter on their behalf to your U.S. representatives, the United Nations, African Union and Sudanese Officials.
Download the photos below and add them to you social media profile page and encourage others/churches to join you in this important mission.
Abigail Frymann Rouch for The Tablet, reports the Council of Paris, the governing body of the French capital, on Tuesday unanimously adopted a proposal by the city’s socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo to award honorary citizenship to Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who has been on death row since 2010.
Mrs Bibi, mother of five, was condemned to death for blasphemy after her Muslim co-workers objected to her drinking from the same water as them and accused her of insulting Muhammad. The High Court in Lahore upheld her sentence in October 2014. On 30 November the Supreme Court agreed to re-open the case. A new trial should begin in May, the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“Falsely accused of insulting the Prophet of Islam, Asia Bibi is the victim of squabbles between families in her village linked to her adherence to the Christian faith in a majority Muslim country.
“To support her in her fight against ignorance and obscurantism, Anne Hildago wishes that Paris raises Asia Bibi to the level of honorary citizen, a rare distinction granted to the world’s most emblematic defenders of human rights,” the statement explained.
“To be an honorary citizen is to embody the values of Paris, the values of liberty and tolerance. By this bold gesture, I wish to testify to the solidarity of Paris towards the numerous women around the world of all confessions who are religious obscurantism and political extremism,” Ms Hildago said.
The mayor reiterated her commitment to supporting Mrs Bibi until a presidential pardon or a new sentence restores her liberty, and restated that the city would welcome her, with her family, as soon as this freedom is restored to her.
In December she unveiled a banner of Mrs Bibi which has remained on display on the steps of the City Hall. At the unveiling she stressed: “We must support Asia Bibi, because women in all regions of the world are the first victims of an order which theocrats, who twist the messages of all religions, try to impose.”
VOP Note: Asia’s husband and five children are desperately missing her. Please pray for her release!
Asia Bibi, is a Pakistani Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, she 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. The woman considered the well defiled after Bibi drank from it because she was a Christian. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Bibi would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.
The verdict, which was reached in a district court and would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention. Multiple petitions have called for the charges against her to be dismissed. She received less sympathy from her neighbors and Islamic religious leaders in the country, some of whom adamantly called for her to be executed. Christian minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for advocating on her behalf and opposing the often misused blasphemy laws. Asia’s family has gone into hiding due to receiving death threats and has voiced concerns that she could be killed by extremists if released from prison.
Show your support for this Christian sister by writing a letter to give her encouragement to endure. And please remember to keep Asia and her family in your prayers.
Letters will be screened by Voice of the Persecuted advocates for Asia’s protection.
Naeem Shakir, human-rights lawyer who is Asia Bibi’s defence counsel has strongly denounced the blasphemy law under which Asia has been sentenced to death. According to him the law is being used as the “tool of oppression.” Naeem Shakir, urged the international community to pressurize the Pakistani authorities to reform the law. “Sharing your concern from wherever you are is important,” he said, because “no change is forthcoming, due to the unavailability of any kind of dialogue. . . We do not find anywhere to seriously deliberate these issues.”
He went on to say, “Political actors are not concerned . . . to deliver justice. . . . They do not want to distress their constituencies by disturbing the religious extremists. There was now,” he said, “a wrong public impression, created by vested interests, that this law is . . . divinely mandated”, whereas it had been “framed by earthly men” and did a disservice to Islam, undermining the “basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence”. As a man-made law, it was “not static”, and could be reformed. “This law is flawed. This law is against the Qur’an and a tool of oppression.” The death penalty for blasphemy was recommended in Pakistani law in 1986. He went on to argue that as for those who present argument that, without the blasphemy law, people would take justice into their own hands, he said: “People are already doing that.” He pointed to the case of a Christian couple beaten and burned alive in a brick kiln in November after they were accused of blasphemy.
He pointed out the “contradictions” in the witnesses’ testimonies and a six-day delay in bringing the accusation against Asia Bibi. He further criticized that the atmosphere in courts also prevented the administration of justice, owing to the intimidating presence of “religious extremists”.
In the USA, You can find your elected officials at the links below
Pray for the nation of Pakistan as they are facing growing radicalism, human rights abuses, discrimination and violence against religious minorities and women.
Prayers Needed: Attorney’s Skeptical About The Release Of Sudanese Christian Woman-SIGN the Petition!
(Voice of the Persecuted) Along with encouraging news that the Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death would soon be released, comes skepticism.
The Foreign Ministry under-secretary Abdelah Al-Azrak stated, “The related authorities in the country are working to release Mariam (sic) who was sentenced to death for apostasy, through legal measures. I expect her to be released soon”.
The practices of the imposed Islamic (Sharia) law on Sudan, has been globally opposed since the sentencing (100 lashes/death by hanging) of a pregnant Christian woman, Meriam Ibrahim for apostasy on May 15. While shackled, Ibrahim gave birth to a baby girl in the squalid conditions of the prison last Tuesday. Her son under 2 years of age, has also been staying with her in the cell. There are reports that due to the prison’s environment, they are covered in lice since her incarceration for her Christian faith.
Meriam’s father deserted the family when she was only 6 years old. Her Ethiopian mother raised her as a Christian. Though she has been greatly pressured to renounce Christianity, Meriam says she will not deny her faith in Jesus Christ.
Men claiming to be her alleged brothers brought the charges against her. Her husband says he never met the men alleging she is their lost Muslim sister. The man claiming to be her older brother publically made a a statement announcing that the woman he claims as a sister must return to Islam or be killed “as a glory to the faith.”
A public order court judge ruled that Meriam’s father may have left her family when she was six and even though she was raised as a Christian, she is expected to worship Islam. The 100 lashes were scheduled to be carried out in 2 weeks, giving her the chance to recover from childbirth. Her death sentence has been postponed for 2 years giving her the ability to breastfeed her new baby.
Her attorney’s are skeptical of the claims to release her. They believe ‘the government is playing games’ to find a way to silence the international outcry. One of her attorney’s said, ‘It’s to silence the international media. This is what the government do. We will not believe that she is being freed until she walks out of the prison’.
We must KEEP PRAYING and raising our VOICES! A petition for her release, organized by Amnesty International has been signed by many. Please help keep up the pressure and global outcry against the wrongful treatment and imprisonment of this Christian woman. SIGN THE PETITION, help save a life!