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Justice for the Yazidi Survivors of Islamic State Killings.

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Yazidis wait for justice against the ISIS Genociders.

Shamima Begum: IS teenager to lose UK citizenship.

Let’s not forget this story.

For Yazidi Survivors of Islamic State Killings, the Nightmares Go On

Ever since Islamic State visited death and destruction on their villages in northern Iraq nearly five years ago, Yazidis Daoud Ibrahim and Kocher Hassan have had trouble sleeping.

For Hassan, 39, who was captured, it is her three missing children, and three years of imprisonment at the hands of the jihadist group.

For Ibrahim, 42, who escaped, it is the mass grave that he returned to find on his ravaged land.

“They burnt one house down, blew up the other, they torched the olive trees two three times. … There is nothing left,” the father of eight told Reuters.

More than 3,000 other members of their minority sect were killed in 2014 in an onslaught that the United Nations described as genocidal.

Mahmoud Khalaf, her husband, says Islamic State not only destroyed their livelihoods. The group broke the trust between Yazidis and the communities of different faiths and ethnicities they had long lived alongside.

“There is no protection. Those who killed us and held us captive and tormented us have returned to their villages,” Khalaf, 40, said, referring to the neighboring Sunni Arab villages who the Yazidis say conspired with the militants. “We have no choice but to stay here. … They are stronger than us.

SURVIVORS OF ISIS GENOCIDE HAVE NOTHING, FOUR YEARS LATER

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN
 FEBRUARY 20, 2019

As the war against ISIS enters its final phases the victims of ISIS are still suffering.

Hundreds of thousands remain in displaced persons camps and cities and towns across Iraq and Syria are still in ruins. Many religious minorities, especially Yazidis and Christians, cannot return to their homes, which were often laced with ISIS bombs or destroyed.

ISIS carried out its worst mass murder between June and August 2014, targeting Bedouin tribes in Syria, Shi’ites in Camp Speicher and Tal Afar, and then Christians in Mosul and Nineveh plains in Iraq. In August 2014, Yazidis in Sinjar awoke to news that Islamic State was attacking villages across areas of northern Iraq where their minority group lives. Within days more than 300,000 Yazidis had to flee and more than 10,000 were kidnapped by ISIS. In their most brutal and cruel act of a long list of atrocities, ISIS separated the Yazidi men and women and put the women on buses to be sold into slavery. In scenes reminiscent of the Holocaust they then took the men and elderly women and systematically murdered them, dumping their bodies into mass graves across northern Iraq’s Sinjar region.

…..

In December 2015 the mass grave sites had been recently discovered. Some of their locations were known because Yazidis who had fled to Sinjar mountain were able to look down on the plains below and watch as ISIS murdered their relatives. In rare cases survivors of the massacres, hiding under the bodies or having escaped somehow, brought news back. There are exact parallels to the mass murder of Jews by the Einsatzgruppen during the Holocaust. I was struck by the fact that the mass graves looked identical to photos I’d seen from the Shoah. I was not prepared however to see the matted human hair, the skulls, the soccer jerseys and blindfolds the people wore, decaying on the ground. When I arrived it was more than a year after the bodies were dumped in the ground. Rain had brought the bones and human remains up to the surface. People said that stray dogs had eaten at the bodies. And this happened in August 2014, before the world’s eyes with basically no attempt to stop the mass killing, despite the fact that drones could easily have seen what was going on. From 1941 to 2014, nothing changed, except the fact that ISIS used smart phones to make videos cheering the killing, videos uploaded to social media.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm

On the Anti-Semitism of Certain Gilets Jaunes against Alain Finkielkraut.

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Unity Against Anti-Semitism.

Yellow-vest protests: Macron condemns anti-Semitic abuse

BBC.

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned anti-Semitic abuse directed at a prominent intellectual by a group of “yellow vest” protesters in Paris.

Police stepped in to protect the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut after he was bombarded with insults and anti-Jewish taunts in the French capital.

President Macron said it was an “absolute negation” of what made France great and would not be tolerated.

Tens of thousands took part in anti-government protests on Saturday.

Prosecutors have now opened an investigation into the incident, and France’s interior minister said on Sunday that a suspect alleged to be the “main perpetrator” had been identified by the authorities.

It is significant that the French Communist Party was one of the first to react:

Ian Brossat, chief French Communist Party candidate for the European Parliament, said “We can hate Finkielkraut’s ideas”, but “nothing can justify attacking him as a Jew”.

The Local.

The anti-Semitic insults hurled at Alain Finkielkraut by certain Gilets Jaunes in Paris on Saturday continue to make waves in France.

This was on Europe 1 this morning.

Bernard-Henri Lévy : “On est dans un moment qui me fait penser à l’époque de l’affaire Dreyfus”

BHL’s scattergun polemics will leave many people cold.

But in some respects he is completely to the point.

In le Monde Diplomatique this month Serge Halimi & Pierre Rimbert defend the Gilet Jaunes as a manifestation of class war.

They cite an episode from the history of French socialism. In the debate, known widely as the “Two methods” held in the Hippodrome of Lille in 1900, Jules Guesde defended the sectarian ‘class against class’ against those socialists who had defended Dreyfus and no backed a government to ‘defend the republic’ against the far-right ‘reactionary’ threat

In Lille in 1900, the socialist leader Jules Guesde had already seen through this political game to which the capitalist class owed its longevity in power: ‘It is divided into progressive bourgeoisie and republican bourgeoisie, clerical bourgeoisie and free-thinking bourgeoisie, in such a way that a defeated faction can always be replaced in power by another faction from the same class, which is also [our] enemy. It’s a ship with watertight partitions which can take in water on one side without being any less unsinkable.’ But sometimes the sea gets rough and the vessel’s stability is threatened. In such a situation, squabbles need to be set aside to present a united front and keep it afloat.

The authors do not cite Guesde’s opponent, Jean Jaurès.

The exchange hinged on the participation of a socialist, Millerand, in the bourgeois (republican) government of René Waldeck-Rousseau. For  Jaurès defending Millerand was a matter of being against Nationalism and Reaction (“contre le nationalisme, contre la réaction”).

The disagreement,as mentioned, went back to Dreyfus.

Guesde refused to back the Jewish victim of anti-semitism on the grounds that the affair was “un conflit interne à la bourgeoisie “(an internal squabble within the bourgeoisie).

Comrade Jaurès replied to these arguments by asserting that the human rights at stake with the injustice against Dreyfus were a matter for socialists.

There are two parts to capitalist and bourgeois legality: There are a whole mass of laws aimed at protecting the fundamental iniquity of our society, and there are laws that consecrate the privileges of capitalist property, the exploitation of the wage earner by the owner. We want to smash these laws, and even by revolution if necessary abolish capitalist legality in order to bring forth a new order. But alongside these laws of privilege and rapine, made by a class and for it, there are others that sum up the pitiful progress of humanity, the modest guarantees that it has little by little conquered through a centuries-long effort and a long series of revolutions.

And among these laws the one that doesn’t allow the condemnation of a man, whoever he might be, without discussion with him is perhaps the most essential. Contrary to the nationalists who want to keep of bourgeois legality all that protects capital and turn over to generals all that protects man, we revolutionary socialists want, within today’s legality, to abolish the capitalist portion and save the human portion. We defend legal guarantees against the braided judges who smash them, just as, if the need arises, we will defend republican legality against generals in a coup d’etat.

Jean Jaurès 1898. The Dreyfus Affair

That  tradition, which sees the fight against anti-Semitism as part of the wider struggle for human rights, and socialism, is quiet but is now becoming more and more alive.

Yves Colman, one of many on the radical French left,  stands against this latest manifestation of anti-Semitism,

Quand des Gilets jaunes lancent des insultes antisémites et xénophobes contre Alain Finkielkraut ils ne font que suivre les traces de leurs prédécesseurs de Nuits debout

The fact that Finkielkraut is reactionary, hostile to Muslim immigration, is indeed an excellent reason to fight it politically. The fact that he does not understand the difference between Islam and Islamism, or between political Islam and jihadist terrorism, the fact that he defends Renaud Camus, the theoretician of the “great replacement”, does not make him particularly attractive.

But there is a wide margin between this and making antisemitic and xenophobic remarks about him when you come across him in the street. This is the step  that yellow vests made today.

Yves continues, comparing this incident to the outpouring of hatred that occurred when Finkielkraut made an equally provocative visit to the Nuit Debout movement’s spectacle at the Place de la Bastille in 2016.

The extreme left, denouncing Finkielkraut’s slightest gesture and systematically associating him with Zionism, could only have facilitated the creation of the current anti-Semitic climate. From this climate left and extreme left who claim to be “anti-Zionists” are partly responsible.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism go hand in hand. And we can not pretend to fight the second without fighting the first. Otherwise we play the game of the extreme right

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Top Oxford Don and Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan had Sexual Relations with Minors in Switzerland.

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jacket, Islamic Ethics

A Very Short Book Indeed.

Oxford Don Tariq Ramadan is in the news again today.

Affaire Ramadan : en Suisse et au Qatar, de gros revers pour le théologien

Libération reports,

In Geneva, an official report confirms his inappropriate behaviour with former students, while in Doha, a former relative asks Muslims to stop supporting him because of his proven double life…

Tariq Ramadan made sexual suggestion to at least three of his underage students in the years 1986, 87, 89, reads in this report that Libération was able to consult. A very charismatic French teacher from 1984 to 2004 in various schools in Geneva, he used to invite students to the restaurant, and accompanied by them by car. At their September hearing five of them reported similar facts.

In Qatar (the country which is the source of funds for his Oxford post) Mohamed el-Moctar al-Shinqiti, a political analyst and well-known commentator on Al Jazeera, published a text on his blog calling on Muslims to stop supporting Tariq Ramadan, a “sex addict who despised those he abused and uses lies to mislead Muslims.” 

 

Investigations uncover Banna’s grandson’s sexual relations with minors

According to a secret investigation issued by the Swiss State Council on October 31, Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan faced new charges of having sexual relationships with minors in Switzerland, French L’OBS website reported Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The investigation revealed that Ramadan tried to seduce a 14-year-old girl but did not succeed. He also had consensual sex with three female students aged between 15 and 18. These incidents took place from 1980 to 1990, when Ramadan taught French and philosophy in two schools (the secondary school of Susie and the middle school of Kudri).

It is noteworthy that the Islamic scholar confessed on Nov. 18 to having a consensual sexual relationship with one of the women who sued him for rape, according to French news source Europe 1.

Ramadan’s lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny stated that the scholar will talk in front of the judiciary about the relationship that he had with one of the women suing him.
Up until now, four women in France and Switzerland have filed lawsuits against Ramadan accusing him of sexual assault.

Ramadan denied having any relations with the first two women who accused him of rape. But when confronted with the third woman, he admitted having a consensual sexual relation with her.

Marie, Ramadan’s third plaintiff, also provided investigators with a dress allegedly having Ramadan’s semen on it. The tests are still underway to specify if there is correlation between DNA samples. The French police detained Ramadan in January, a legal source said.

In June this year, Ken Loach, Yvonne Ridley and Peter Oborne, the Canadian one-time New Leftist Charles Taylor, and a host of Oxford Academics, and others across the world, signed a Petition in support of Ramadan (here)

It is not known if he still retains his Oxford link.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Memorial Ceremony Today for the Bataclan and Saint-Denis victims of Islamist Terror.

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Memorial Ceremony Today in Paris for the Bataclan and Saint-Denis Victims of Islamist Terror.

France on Tuesday is marking the third anniversary of the country’s deadliest ever terrorist attacks with a procession linking the areas in and around Paris that were struck by jihadist gunmen on November 13, 2015.

France 24.

The coordinated attacks, in which 130 people were killed, targeted the Stade de France stadium north of Paris as well as several cafes and restaurants in the French capital and the Bataclan concert hall.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will lead commemorations at all six of the targeted sites on Tuesday morning, accompanied by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the ambassadors of several countries.

In his latest book, French journalist and writer Matthieu Suc recounts how all the planners of the deadly November 2015 Paris attacks, who operated within the Islamic State (IS) group’s “spy service”, were systematically eliminated.

France 24.

Trois ans après le 13-Novembre, hommage national aux victimes à Paris et Saint-Denis.

Libération.

Le maire de Londres Sadiq Khan assistait également aux cérémonies pour «témoigner de l’amitié très forte qui lie leurs deux villes et de leur solidarité mutuelle face au terrorisme»,

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan will also attend the ceremonies to “bear witness of the great friendship that binds our two cities together and our mutual solidarity faced with terrorism.”

How the planners of the 2015 Paris attacks were systematically eliminated

France 24.

A year has passed since Belgian jihadist Oussama Atar, the last surviving planner of the deadly November 13, 2015, Paris attacks, was killed in Syria by an international coalition strike.

Atar was the head of the IS group’s “CIA”, headquartered in the Syrian city of Raqqa at the height of the group’s control over its so-called caliphate.

But France has not touted the supposed end of the dreaded “amniyat”  the IS group’s intelligence services. It’s the subject of Matthieu Suc’s latest book, “Les espions de la terreur” (Terror’s Spies), which was published in French on Wednesday. A reporter at the French investigative website Mediapart, Suc spent four years working on the book, which is the result of extensive reporting on the intelligence gathered by the French services as they combed through propaganda, interviews and information gleaned from intelligence-sharing.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 11:09 am

Pakistan: Islamists Win Right to Appeal Asia Bibi ‘Blasphemy’ Case – a “death Warrant”.

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Islamists Have Won Right to Appeal Asia Bibi’s Acquittal. 

Asia Bibi’s lawyer leaves Pakistan citing threats to his life

The lawyer who saved Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, from the gallows left the country on Saturday, saying his life was under threat.

Saiful Mulook’s latest victory saw the freeing of Asia Bibi, who spent nearly a decade on death row, after the Supreme Court overturned her sentence on Wednesday.

The decision sparked protests across the country, with major roads blocked in Lahore and Islamabad as religious hardliners called for the death of the judges and those who helped acquit Bibi.

“In the current scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan,” the 62-year-old told AFP before boarding a plane to Europe early Saturday morning.

“I need to stay alive as I still have to fight the legal battle for Asia Bibi,” he said.

This is the crucial point:

On Friday night, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party (TLP), which has largely led the demonstrations, announced an end to mass protestsafter reaching a deal with the government.

A five-point agreement seen by AFP, signed by both parties, said the government would not object to an appeal of the verdict, filed earlier in the Supreme Court.

CNN have published the details of this capitulation to the racist far-right,

The terms of the TLP agreement, reached Friday night, include a pledge by the government not to oppose an application by movement members to add Bibi to a list preventing her from leaving the country.

Bibi was still in jail Saturday at an undisclosed location in Pakistan, her lawyer, Saiful Malook, told CNN. Earlier in the week, he said she would need to move to a Western country for her own safety. At least two Western countries have offered Bibi asylum after her release, CNN understands.

Pakistan’s government also agreed not to oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgment in Bibi’s case, to release everyone detained in connection with the protests and to take legal action regarding deaths that may have occurred during the protests.”

The Dawn article continues,

When asked about the outcry, Mulook said it was “unfortunate but not unexpected”.

“What’s painful is the response of the government. They cannot even implement an order of the country’s highest court,” he said, adding that “the struggle for justice must continue”.

According to the agreement, which came after a failed first round of talks, legal proceedings will follow to impose a travel ban on Bibi and stop her leaving the country.

“Her life would be more or less the same, either inside a prison or in solitary confinement for security fears” until a decision on the appeal, said Mulook.

The TLP, founded in 2015, blockaded the capital Islamabad for several weeks last year calling for stricter enforcement of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

That protest forced the resignation of the federal law minister and paved the way for the group to poll more than 2.23 million votes in the July 25 general election, in what analysts called a “surprisingly” rapid rise.

Asia Bibi: Lawyer flees Pakistan in fear of his life

BBC.

The lawyer representing a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after eight years on death row has fled Pakistan in fear for his life.

Saif Mulook told news agency AFP he had to leave so he could continue to represent Asia Bibi, whose conviction was overturned by judges on Wednesday.

Officials have since agreed to bar Ms Bibi from leaving Pakistan in order to end violent protests over the ruling.

Campaigners blasted the deal as akin to signing her “death warrant”.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbours, and many are calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty following her acquittal.

Mr Mulook told the BBC earlier this week she would need to move to a Western country for her own safety. A number of attempts have previously been made on her life.

Several countries have offered her asylum.

Many people on the left have, for many years,  ignored the growth in the Islamist far-right.

Al Jazeera however offers some background on the latest addition to these totalitarian movements which place religion, in the form of a racism against all non-Muslims and hatred against all but their own idea of ‘true’ Muslims,  at the heart of their ideology.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik: New far right campaigns against ‘blasphemy’

Hardline party, which formed last year, rallies support by focusing its political messaging on religious ideology.

The narrow streets of Lahore’s Mazang neighbourhood echo with the sounds of dozens of young men, as someone showers them with rose petals.

They wind their way through this congested, working-class quarter in Pakistan’s second city, some on foot, others mounted on motorcycles.

“Labbaik, labbaik, labbaik ya Rasool Allah!” they chant, raising their arms. “We stand, we stand, we stand with you, O Allah’s prophet!”

Waving brightly coloured green flags, they continue, in tune with an election song: “Hang them, hang them!”.

Meet the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Pakistan’s newest hardline religious party, which calls for blasphemers to be put to death and celebrates those who have murdered the alleged perpetrators.

A year ago, this kind of a political rally, in the heart of the political base of Pakistan’s ruling party, would have been unthinkable.

Formed last year, the TLP has performed credibly in by-elections, first springing to prominence when it challenged the PML-N in this Lahore neighbourhood, securing more than 7,000 votes and finishing third in a poll where its candidate was a virtual unknown.

That vote was for the parliamentary seat vacated by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations. A final verdict in the corruption cases against him is expected on Friday.

Now, the TLP is set to put up more than 550 candidates for national and provincial assembly seats across the country, and is confident it can mobilise a religiously-motivated vote on the basis of its anti-blasphemy and anti-corruption agenda.

Blasphemy is a central issue for the party, whose leaders follow the Barelvi sect, a South Asian branch of Sunni Islam that places emphasis on the personage of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“When it involves the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, the finality of his prophethood or the dishonouring of his person, then every Muslim will become an extremist,” says Ejaz Ashrafi, a senior TLP leader, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

….

Led by firebrand far-right scholar Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP mobilised thousands to block a major highway into the capital, Islamabad, for three weeks in November over a minor change to an electoral oath that Rizvi claimed amounted to “blasphemy”.

….

“If they give me the atom bomb, I’ll immediately bomb Holland, before they are able to hold any caricature competitions on the prophet,” he told reporters.

What have been the reactions of official British Muslim organisations, many of which have strong ties to Pakistan, to this horrific case?

What about campaigns that have opposed the racism of Tommy Robinson and his supporters?

Have any defended Asia Bibi, a victim of religious racism?

Have they condemned the Islamist far-right in Pakistan?

We are still waiting to hear any statements. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Coptic Christians Murdered in Attack on Coach in Egypt.

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Image result for coptes tuees en car

Violence against Egyptian Christians is on the rise again (Photo: le Matin)

Gunmen killed at least seven people and wounded 14 others when they opened fire on a bus driving towards a Coptic Christian monastery in Egypt on Friday, the Archbishop in Minya said.

France 24.

A security official confirmed the attack in Minya province, adding that there were “dead and wounded”.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on people travelling to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya, 260 km (160 miles) south of Cairo.

Egypt: Deadly attack on bus headed to Coptic Christian monastery

Al Jazeera

Several reported dead and wounded following assault on vehicle headed towards monastery in Minya, south of Cairo.

Al-Azhar, evangelical community condemn ‘despicable’ Minya attack

 

CAIRO – 2 November 2018: Egypt’s top Sunni authority Al-Azhar and the Evangelical community issued statements Friday strongly condemning the ‘despicable’ attack that killed seven Copts who were taking a bus in Minya.

The attack took place near a monastery in Upper Egypt’s Minya. Al-Azhar called the crime “heinous” and affirmed strong will and determination of Egyptians to combat terrorism.

In a statement Friday, Al-Azhar said: “the perpetrators of this cowardly act of terrorism are criminals stripped of humanity. They are far from the teachings of religions that call for coexistence; peace; renunciation of violence, hatred and terrorism, and criminalization of killing innocents.”

The statement added, “Targeting Egyptians will only increase their determination to move forward and united in their war against terrorism.”

Al-Azhar also expressed sincere condolences to all Egyptians and to the families of the innocent victims of Friday’s attack.

At least seven people were announced killed and seven others wounded after the bus was attacked near the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, according to the security source.

Background:  Christians in Egypt face unprecedented persecution, report says.  Harriet Sherwood

Guardian. January 2018.

Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnap of girls by Islamist extremists intent on forcing them to marry Muslims, a report says.

In the past year, Egypt has moved up an annual league table of persecution of Christians compiled by the charity Open Doors. According to its World Watch List, North Korea is still the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a Christian, and Nepal has had the biggest increase in persecution.

But Egypt, home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, is of particular worry. Officially about 10% of the 95 million population are Christian, although many believe the figure is significantly higher.

The overwhelming majority are Orthodox, with up to 1 million evangelical Christians and 250,000 Catholics. Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Sunday amid tight security, days after at least 11 were killed in attacks. The president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, attended midnight mass at a new cathedral 30 miles (45km) east of the capital as tens of thousands of armed soldiers patrolled streets around churches all over Egypt.

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Christian Asia Bibi Death Sentence in Pakistan for ‘Blasphemy’ Overturned; Islamists Protest Against the Verdict.

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A poster bearing an image of Asia Bibi.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges, after accepting her appeal against her sentence.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel had reserved its ruling on Asia Bibi’s final legal appeal against execution (Asia Bibi v. The State, etc) on October 8.

Follow Dawn.com’s live updates on the protests against the verdict here.

The appeal, accepted by SC in 2015, challenged the Lahore High Court’s October 2014 verdict upholding a trial court’s November 2010 decision sentencing Bibi to death for committing blasphemy in 2009.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” said Justice Nisar in the ruling.

“Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” he added.

The 56-page detailed judgement has been authored by CJP Nisar, with a separate concurrent opinion note from Justice Khosa.

“Tolerance is the basic principle of Islam,” the top judge read out, noting that the religion condemns injustice and oppression.

“It is a well settled principle of law that one who makes an assertion has to prove it. Thus, the onus rests on the prosecution to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt throughout the trial,” noted the top judge in the order. “Presumption of innocence remains throughout the case until such time the prosecution on the evidence satisfies the court beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the offence alleged against him.

“[…] The expression ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ is of fundamental importance to the criminal justice: it is one of the principles which seeks to ensure that no innocent person is convicted.

“Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” concluded the chief justice.

The court also noted that “it is not for the individuals, or a gathering (mob), to decide as to whether any act falling within the purview of Section 295-C has been committed or not, because as stated earlier, it is the mandate of the court to make such decision after conducting a fully qualified trial and on the basis of credible evidence brought before it”.

The CJP ended the judgement with a hadith of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) on the rights of minorities.

Justice Khosa, in his note, said: “Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was also not short of being blasphemous.”

Chaudhry Ghulam Mustafa, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, rejected the verdict, saying Bibi had confessed to making derogatory remarks against the prophet to seek pardon.

Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Mulook told AFP: “The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings. This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.

Bibi appeared to be in state of disbelief after hearing the decision from her lawyer.

“I can’t believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really?” Bibi told AFP by phone from prison after the ruling. “I just don’t know what to say, I am very happy, I can’t believe it.”

Bibi’s husband also hailed the verdict. “I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” said Ashiq Masih.

My wife spent so many years in jail and we hope that we will soon be together in a peaceful place,” he added.

Shortly after the ruling, hundreds blocked a key road linking Rawalpindi with Islamabad. People are also gathering for protests in Karachi and Peshawar. Similar rallies are being held elsewhere as police urge demonstrators to disperse peacefully.

Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich described the SC decision as a “landmark verdict”.

“For the past eight years, Asia Bibi’s life languished in limbo. The message must go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute the country’s most vulnerable minorities.”

The decision to take stringent security measures in the capital was made after a number of meetings held to thrash out a strategy to deal with any unforeseen situation after the verdict.

On Oct 13 this year, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a religio-political party headed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, threatened to “paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asia Bibi free”.

Islamabad was put on high alert on Tuesday night. Extra contingents of police and law enforcement agencies have been deployed in the capital.

Paramilitary troops have been deployed in the capital to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court, where security for the judges was beefed up.

About 300 police personnel, along with paramilitary units, are guarding the SC building, adjacent to Parliament House on Constitution Avenue.

Sources in the administration told Dawn that Rangers and Frontier Constabulary had been called as part of measures to step up security in Islamabad. Security of the Judges Enclave and the Diplomatic Enclave has been handed over to Rangers.

The sources said security personnel had been asked to guard the Red Zone as it houses sensitive installations, including the Supreme Court.

According to the sources, when some senior police officers met officials of the apex court, the law enforcers were asked to adopt security measures for the Supreme Court and other key points.

Dawn provides a full account of the background including this:

Case history

The prosecution had claimed that Bibi “admitted” making the blasphemous statements at a “public gathering” on June 19, 2009 “while asking for forgiveness”.

A trial court convicted Bibi for blasphemy in November 2010 and sentenced her to death. The Lahore High Court (LHC) had upheld her conviction and confirmed her death sentence in October 2014.

She had then challenged the LHC verdict in the Supreme Court, which stayed her execution in July 2015 and admitted her appeal for hearing.

The top court had first taken up the appeal in October 2016, but had to adjourn the matter without hearing after one of the judges recused himself from the SC bench. Two years later, the appeal was heard earlier this month and the CJP Nisar-led bench reserved its verdict.

Bibi’s supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute, and the Vatican has called for her release.

In 2011, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who spoke out in support of Bibi, was gunned down in broad daylight in Islamabad. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.

CNN: Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

Pakistani Christian on death row acquitted. 

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Pakistan’s Supreme Court has acquitted a Christian woman who has been on death row for almost eight years on blasphemy charges.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to hang after she was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammed during an argument the year before with Muslim colleagues.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Asia Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. At the time, Asia Bibi said the case was a matter of women who didn’t like her “taking revenge.”

She won her appeal against the conviction and subsequent death sentence on Wednesday.

The court quoted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in its ruling, saying Asia Bibi appeared to have been “more sinned against than sinning.”

“Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said.

David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization that lobbies on behalf of Christian minorities, said in a statement that “we are breathing a sigh of relief today.”

“These charges stemmed from her Christian identity as well as false accusations against her,” he said. “We are hopeful that Pakistan will now take additional steps to offer religious freedom and basic human rights throughout the country.”

Islamist movement Tehreek-e Labbaik had previously vowed to take to the streets if Bibi was released, and protests broke out in Islamabad and Lahore soon after the ruling was announced.

Within hours, the protests were large enough that government officials in the cities were urging people to stay inside and avoid adding to the chaos.

The Bigots were out in Force:

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a hardline religious political party chant slogans during a protest against the court decision to overturn the conviction of Christian woman Asia Bibi in Lahore on October 31, 2018.

Christians have had to be protected from racist Islamist attacks.

29 minutes ago

Rangers deployed in Lahore’s Youhanabad

Rangers officials have been deployed in the Youhanabad area of Lahore to deter any potential unrest.

Youhanabad is the largest Christian neighbourhood in Pakistan.

16 minutes ago

TLP protesters shut railway lines in Upper Jhelum Canal

The railway line along the three bridges in the Upper Jhelum Canal has been shut completely by TLP protesters.

“The traffic will remain blocked until Asia Bibi is hanged,” the protesters demand.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2018 at 11:57 am