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Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal upheld

ISLAMABAD (CNS): On January 29, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld its acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman who had been previously sentenced to hang for blasphemy. Tehreek-e-Labbaaik, an extremist group, had challenged the acquittal (Sunday Examiner, February 3).
 
The  mother of five is now free to leave Pakistan and is expected to join her family in Canada where they were granted asylum, the Associated Press reported.
 

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Pakistan court to hear challenge to Asia Bibi acquittal

LAHORE (UCAN): Pakistan’s Supreme Court will hear a review petition challenging the acquittal of Catholic death row inmate, Asia Bibi, on charges of blasphemy, it announced on January 24.
 
Muhammad Salam, a Lahore-based cleric, filed the petition last November after Bibi’s death sentence was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment which drew praise from minorities and human rights advocates.
 

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Rohingya exodus from India to Bangladesh

DHAKA (UCAN): At least 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from India since December to escape alleged harassment and imminent deportation, according to Bangladeshi officials.
 

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Pakistan shocked by extrajudicial killing of family

ISLAMABAD (UCAN): “We condemn it in the strongest terms. If the victims were criminals, they should have been arrested. The law enforcement agencies should have taken the legal course of action,” Father Almas Silas of Sacred Heart Church in Sahiwal, Punjab province, Pakistan, said, reacting to the extrajudicial killing of four people by armed personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on January 19. 
 

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Pakistan’s clerics denounce radicalism

LAHORE (UCAN): More than 500 Muslim clerics gathered in Islamabad, Pakistan, for the Seerat-i-Rehmatul Aalameen Conference issued the seven-point Islamabad Declaration on January 6. The declaration, in part, condemned murders committed “on the pretext of religious belief,” which are acts against the teachings of Islam.
 
It also said that any Islamic sectarian group could not be declared as infidel. “Any Muslim or non-Muslim could not be declared as doomed to death extra-judicially,” the declaration stated.
 

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Commission for minorities launched in Pakistan

LAHORE (UCAN): The Pakistan Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice, together with the Peace and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, gathered with human rights and religious organisations from across the country in Lahore to launch the Peoples’ Commission for Minorities’ Rights (PCMR).
 
The commission, which also includes representatives from Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities, aims to press for the protection of religious minorities in the country.
 

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Turmoil as court sets aside Asia Bibi death sentence

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the submissive response of Pakistan’s government’s to protests by Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as well as its inability to preserve “the writ of the state” during protests that erupted after the acquittal of, Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman convicted of blasphemy, in a controversial blasphemy case. 
 

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Pakistan’s top judge to hear Asia Bibi’s death sentence appeal

KARACHI (UCAN): Pakistan’s chief justice, Saqib Nisar, has announced he will take up the appeal of Asia Bibi, the Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 for blasphemy (Sunday Examiner, 28 November 2010).
 
He told her chief counsel, Saif ul Malook to prepare her appeal.
 
“Be ready, Saif ul Malook. I am going to fix your case soon and I myself will preside over the bench,” Nisar told Malook on April 21.
 

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Weapons licenses for Pakistan churches

QUETTA (UCAN): The provincial government in Balochistan, southwest Pakistan, plans to issue churches in the region with weapons licenses and has donated millions of rupees to Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta to support victims and families of a suicide bombing that killed nine people on 17 December 2017.
 
“The Balochistan Home Department will issue weapon licenses in the name of the churches,” Samuel Pyara, chairperson of the Implementation Minority Rights Forum (IMRF), said.
 

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Churches in Pakistan reopened after outcry

ISLAMABAD (UCAN): Six Christian churches in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have been allowed to reopen some two weeks after their forced closure over alleged security threats, minority representatives said.
 
The house churches are located in the city of Abbottabad, where Al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, was found and killed in a raid by United States (US) Navy SEAL commandos in 2011.
 

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