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Pakistani philanthropist Pastor sentenced to death over false blasphemy allegations

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The Paradise Breaking News

A district court in Rawalpindi, Pakistan has sentenced a Protestant pastor, Zafar Bhatti, 58, to death for blasphemy.

Bhatti, who has been in prison since 2012, was accused of sending blasphemous SMS text messages., according to a report by Anglican Ink.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 3, 2017 under Articles 295 (a) and 295 (c) of the Penal Code of Pakistan for dishonouring the Prophet Muhammad and his mother.

Before his arrest in 2012, Pastor Zafar Bhatti had founded the charity organization “Jesus World Mission” to assist the poor. He ran a house church.

According to a complaint filed by an anonymous person, the police arrested Pastor Zafar Bhatti for blasphemy.

After investigating the mobile phone number, the service provider revealed that the SIM card number used to send text messages was not registered in his name. A Muslim woman named Ghazala Khan was found to be the owner of the SIM card number used to send blasphemous text messages.

The court tried the woman in April 2013 and granted her bail. From day one, Zafar Bhatti denied the charges against him.

He is currently the longest-serving prisoner for blasphemy and the first to receive a death sentence, upheld by the court on January 3.

Ilyas Samuel, a Christian human rights activist, showing Fides his dismay at the unjustified death sentence of Zafar Bhatti, said: “It is sad to hear this news.

“I am sorry that the misuse of blasphemy laws has become so common that it is exercised as a tool of revenge against innocent people”.

Along with Zafar Bhatti’s case, there is another that shows a glimmer of justice: on January 5, Nadeem Samson, a Christian victim of the blasphemy law since November 2017, was released on bail after four years of arrest, in a sentence of the Supreme Court.

Nadeem Samson was arrested on charges of creating a fake Facebook account, in which he allegedly posted blasphemous content.

Joseph Jansen, President of Voice for Justice, told Fides: “We are happy to have obtained bail for Nadeem Samson. In fact, the dispute with the complainant concerned money and property issues.

“Most blasphemy cases are based on false accusations, stemming from family feuds or religious prejudice. Those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy must be brought to justice and duly punished”, he said.

Muslim lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, Nadeem Samson’s lawyer and former defender of Asia Bibi, told Fides: “It is a historic decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

“This ruling will serve as a precedent to help other victims of blasphemy allegations. Pakistani courts regularly reject bail appeals for victims of blasphemy law, particularly when the allegations relate to Article 295 (c).

“We give credit to Judge Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court of Pakistan for not letting religious prejudices prevent him from exercising justice”, he added.

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Hislop condemns ‘depressing’ conduct of MPs in spiky committee session

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Ian Hislop says standards in British public life are “very depressing”, as he denounced the lobbying culture of MPs in a standards committee session this afternoon.

Asked by the standards committee chair, Chris Bryant, how MPs were doing on standards in British public life, Hislop complained they were “not good”.

The editor of Private Eye added the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal was proof the “system failed.”

In a tense exchange with liaison committee chair Sir Bernard Jenkin, Hislop was pressed on whether better dialogue was needed around understanding rules on lobbying.

Hislop complained: “Why do you have to explain to a new MP why he shouldn’t lobby for a company that’s taking government contracts?

“Why isn’t that blatantly obvious?”

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Uzodinma invited Nigerian Army to arrest innocent Biafran youths —IPOB

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IPOB Members

The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has accused Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, of inviting the Nigerian Army to arrest “innocent Biafran youths who are now languishing in several detention facilities across the country.

The group, in a statement on Tuesday issued by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said Uzodinma instructed the Army to go from house to house in Mbaise and Obowo communities in the state to arrest the innocent youths.

In the statement made available to Ripples Nigeria, IPOB accused the Imo Governor and security agencies of spreading falsehood against them and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

The Igbo separatist group also debunked a statement by the Army that its militia wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), run several camps in Imo and other states in the region, saying they were “lies fed to Nigerian on a regular basis by the military, ably supported by Uzodinma and the Commissioner of Police in the state.”

“The Nigeria Army Commander as well as the Police Commissioner in Imo State derives pleasure in dishing out fake information and falsehood to disrepute IPOB and ESN operatives,” the statement reads.

READ ALSO: Uzodinma came to kill, destroy Imo; lacks capacity to lead a state —Okorocha

“We, therefore, want to once again, declare that contrary to fabricated lies by the security agencies, ESN has no camp in Lilu, Orsumoghu in Anambra State and Mbaise, Obowo in Imo State.

“The claims by the Nigeria security agencies that they discovered IPOB/ESN camps in the affected communities are all lies concocted to blackmail us and justify further destruction of more Igbo communities by security agents.

“Hope Uzodinma, the APC and some evil politicians in Imo State are busy trying to eliminate their political opponents with the intent to blame IPOB for such atrocities. But we want the world to know that we have no hands in what is happening in Imo State.

“IPOB and ESN have no camps in these communities. We are not militants nor cannibals. Criminals can never be said to be IPOB/ESN members. We are not cultists. Our mission is the restoration of Biafra, and that has nothing to do with cannibalism and abominable things allegedly going on in such camps.

“Nigerian security agencies and government of Imo State created these criminals thinking they can demonise IPOB and ESN members but unfortunately they turned against innocent members of the society.

“Hope Uzodinma instructed soldiers to go from house to house searching for IPOB members. Many innocent youths including members of IPOB were abducted, and some unaccounted for while many others are still dumped in many detention facilities across the country.

“We still call for the release of these victims. Why should innocent Igbo and other Biafra youths be languishing in cells for committing absolutely no crime while Fulani terrorist Herdsmen are roaming free and cause more horrific crimes?”

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Rayner questions Paymaster General on Downing Street parties

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Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, described the Met Police’s investigation into alleged Downing Street parties as “a truly damning reflection on this nation’s highest office”.

Rayner told Michale Ellis, the paymaster general, that “the country have made up their minds”, and asked him “when will his party catch up?”

Ellis responded by saying the details of the investigation were “for the Cabinet Office and the police” and that they would “conduct the investigation as they see fit”.

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