September 9, 2020

PAKISTAN: Christian Is Sentenced To Death After Refusing His Employer's Request To Convert To Islam. That's More Like A Demand, Not A "Request". Gggrrr 🤬 Christian Couple Also On Death Row.

Daily Mail, UK
written by Jack Newman
Tuesday September 8, 2020

A Christian man has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for sending 'blasphemous' texts to a former supervisor at work.

Asif Pervaiz, 37, has been in custody since 2013 for allegedly insulting Islam and was found guilty in Lahore on Tuesday but denies any wrongdoing.

He claims after quitting his job at a hosiery factory, his supervisor Muhammad Saeed Khokher tried to convert him to Islam.

But Asif says when he refused to change his beliefs, he was then accused of having sent blasphemous texts about Islam to his boss.

Asif's lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told Al Jazeera: 'The complainant was a supervisor in a hosiery factory where Asif was working under him.

'He denied the allegations and said that this man was trying to get him to convert to Islam.'

The lawyer added Asif would appeal his sentence of a three-year prison term and a fine of 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($300) for 'misusing' his phone to send the derogatory text message.

The court order said Asif would be 'hanged by his neck till his death' after serving the jail time.

Asif spoke in his own defence during the trial, saying he was confronted by his boss after he quit the factory job.

But Khokher denies wanting to convert his Christian colleague, according to his lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry.

He said: 'He has taken this defence after the fact, because he had no other clear defence. That's why he accused him of trying to convert him.'

Chaudhry added that other Christians work at the factory and none have accused Khokher of trying to convert them to Islam.

Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws which carry a death penalty for people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, the Quran or certain holy people.

There are at least 80 people in prison in Pakistan accused of blasphemy, with half facing life sentences or the death penalty, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom found.

An overwhelming 98 per cent of the population follows Islam and critics say the law targets members of other religious groups including Hindus and Christians.

Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate minorities and settle personal scores.

A US citizen of Pakistani origin on a blasphemy trial in the northwestern city of Peshawar in July was shot dead in the courtroom by a teenager who told bystanders he killed him for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Since his arrest, the alleged shooter has been glorified as a "holy warrior" by supporters in Pakistan and thousands of Islamists have rallied to demand his release

A Punjab governor was killed by his own guard in 2011 after he defended a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy.

She was acquitted after spending eight years on death row in a case that drew international media attention.

Faced with death threats from Islamic extremists upon her release, she flew to Canada to join her daughters last year.
Islamic extremists sound very much like the BLM Antifa Resistance Marxist Democrat extremist across America who Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, US media, and Hollywood celebrities strongly support. (emphasis mine)
BBC News, UK
written by Secunder Kermani
Wednesday June 3, 2020

Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel have spent the last six years in jail waiting for an appeal against their death sentence for "blasphemy" to conclude.

Now, the family of the poor Christian couple from the central Pakistani town of Gojra hope an end to their ordeal could be in sight; a final hearing at Lahore High Court was scheduled for Wednesday though it was delayed, with a new date due to be announced.

Their lawyer, Saif ul Malook, who also represented Asia Bibi, another Christian woman who had a death sentence for blasphemy successfully overturned, told the BBC the evidence used to convict the couple was deeply flawed.

But, he warned, that judges can be "fearful" of acquitting suspects, in case they are targeted themselves by extremists. Court proceedings have also slowed in recent weeks as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The married couple were convicted in 2014 of sending blasphemous text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad to a local imam from a phone number registered to Shagufta Kausar's name. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, and though no-one has ever been executed for it, dozens have been killed by mobs after being accused of the crime.

Shagufta's brother Joseph, who requested his surname not be published, told the BBC the couple were innocent, and he doubted they were literate enough even to have written the abusive messages. Shagufta worked as a caretaker in a Christian school, whilst her husband Shafqat is partially paralysed.

Joseph said on a visit to jail, Shafqat told him he had been tortured into making a false confession: "He told me the policeman hit [him] so hard that his leg was broken."

The couple have four children, who Joseph said had been left traumatised.

"All the time they are crying… they are missing them, they wish to see their parents again."

Human rights groups say blasphemy allegations are frequently used to settle personal scores or target religious minorities. The couple's lawyer told the BBC that in their trial they suggested a Christian neighbour they had argued with might have purchased a SIM card in Shagufta Kausar's name and sent the messages in order to frame them.

Blasphemy convictions are often eventually overturned on appeal in Pakistan. Last year, Asia Bibi left the country after more than a decade in prison, having been acquitted by the Supreme Court. The verdict led to violent protests by hardline religious groups.

Lawyer Saif ul Malook told the BBC he believed the case against Shagufta Kausar and her husband was even weaker than that against Asia Bibi.

He said the couple deserved similar support from the international community, and if acquitted, they would also need to be granted asylum abroad. Joseph told the BBC the family's hopes for justice had been boosted by seeing Asia Bibi's release.

The Supreme Court judges who acquitted Asia Bibi warned of the danger of false blasphemy allegations - however, new cases continue to be filed in the country. In April, a woman from the Ahmadi sect, considered heretical in Pakistan, was charged with insulting the Prophet Muhammad during an argument after she attempted to make a donation to a local mosque.
  • Make up 1.6% of Pakistan's predominantly Muslim population
  • Majority are descendents of those who converted from Hinduism under the British Raj
  • Most converted to escape their low-caste status and many are among the poorest in Pakistan
  • Targeting of Christians fuelled by strong anti-blasphemy laws and anger over US-led war in Afghanistan

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