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Community tension arises against Christians in Pakistan as Muslims call for the blood of two blasphemy law victims. Over the last two weeks the legal sagas
of Asia Bibi (46 years) and Nabeel Masih (16 years)have
been putting the judicial system of Pakistan through its sternest test, Sadly for these victims and to the consternation of millions of people
around the globe who have been watching intently hoping for Pakistan to bring justice to these innocent victims - the law courts have failed.
Last week Asia Bibi a mother of five who has been unjustly incarcerated for seven years had to suffer the ignominy of having her trial being postponed indefinitely. Apparently a judge who should have been on a panel of three presiding over her trial, who had known about her Supreme Court appeal hearing for some time, failed to recognise until the day of trial that Asia's case was closely connected with the murder of Salmaan Taseer. Justice Iqbal Hameed abstained himself from sitting on the panel claiming a conflict of interest in a dubious act that has invoked widespread condemnation from humanitarians who believe his act to be one of cowardice or collusion.
Vitriolic protests have been held across the country in which extremist groups are inciting the already conservative Muslim communities in Pakistan to call for the blood of Asia Bibi.
Sunni Muslim groups have coordinated mass demonstrations across Pakistan, chanting slogans and displaying signs calling for the Christian woman Asia Bibi to be hanged. Hundreds of members and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah gathered last week in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore to declare their hatred for Asia,
“It will be a war if accursed Asia escapes. We are united to guard the honor of Rasool Allah, we are His servants,” Mukhtar, on one of many protesters in Lahore supporting the hanging of the Christian woman told AsiaNews. “Was Pakistan formed to hang the lovers and spare blasphemers. Why is Asia Bibi not hanged even after the death sentence by Lahore High Court and Supreme Court,”he asked, warning “the government will pay if it acts on foreign agenda and betrays us.”
A high ranking Punjab judge has offered to become part of the appeals panel and has intimated he would uphold the death penalty issued by the High Court of Lahore. "I have long studied the case - the Assistant Attorney General Chaudhry Ahmad Zubair Farooq said "...and overwhelming evidence and testimonies have emerged against the defendant".
This week 16 year old Nabeel Masih faced the howling of a mob of in excess of 80 Muslims seeking his death, whilst in Lahore High Court awaiting his sentence for charges of blasphemy. Nabeel's crime was to post a Facebook image that is said to be derogatory to Muslims on the walls of his friends FB. On Friday a judge announced the young teenager could face the death sentence a harsh penalty that the BPCA was first to suggest when the story first came out. Ostensibly the alleged blasphemy crime charged to Nabeel Masih breaches section 295 and 295A of Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Which should hold a maximum sentence of 10 years.
|§ 295||Injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class||Up to 2 years imprisonment or fine, or both|
|§ 295A||Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. 1927||Up to 10 years imprisonment, or fine, or both|
|§ 295C||Use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, etc. defiles the name of Muhammad (S.A.W). 1986||Mandatory Death and fine (Feb. 1990)Trial
must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding.