Search Results for: Asia Bibi

Persecuting Pakistani Christians

I keep thinking about all the American Christians who canceled church on Christmas Day. Terry wrote about the Iraqi Christians who’ve done the same. Except in their case, it’s under threat of death.

I’m elated that Christmas is finally here after a lengthy Advent but I am so sad that Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among other locations, aren’t able to worship freely. Or take the horrible news out of Nigeria yesterday. What Christians there wouldn’t do to have the freedom to worship in peace.

In any case, some holiday seasons see quite a few stories aiming to undermine some aspect of Christianity. We didn’t see much of that. Neither did we see much War on Christmas-type stuff (hurray!), particularly considering that there was ample opportunity.

Certainly the plight of global Christians this Christmas has not been covered well. But I did want to highlight a package from CNN that I personally found quite interesting.

The feature piece is actually a photo essay by Gary S. Chapman, titled “The persecution of Pakistan’s Christian minority.” Brett Roegiers explained the background to the piece:

In August 2009, an angry mob of extremist Muslims torched Christian homes in Gojra, Pakistan. At least seven people were shot to death or burned alive. A few days after the attacks, American photographer Gary S. Chapman visited the area with his wife, Vivian, to document the aftermath. “I want people to see my images and feel both discomfort and compassion at the same time,” he said recently. “I want them to try and see themselves in the situation I am witnessing.” The violence in Gojra was incited by rumors of the desecration of pages of the Quran at a Christian wedding, police said. An investigation determined the allegations were baseless.

His project began in 2005 when he photographed relief efforts after a massive earthquake killed 86,000. He learned about mistreatment of Christians then and there, including rape, lack of employment and education and beatings for drinking from Muslim water fountains:

At large gatherings, the Christians would sometimes hire armed guards for protection. Despite their hardships, Chapman says many remain optimistic. “I have been encouraged by the Christians of Pakistan that remain faithful, forever hopeful in the midst of real persecution,” he said. He has been to Pakistan four times now. During one trip, he visited a woman who had taken in several Christian children orphaned by the earthquake. Shortly after he left, an arsonist set fire to her home.

He ends by noting:

“After seeing the injustices in Pakistan, I’ve learned not to take my freedom for granted concerning my faith, livelihood, or even where I live,” Chapman said. “I am thankful for everything.”

His wife Vivian Padilla-Chapman wrote an accompanying essay from her perspective. She goes through some of the heartbreaking stories. She tells about a 32-year-old father of four who saved 70 women and children from violence and death by offering them safe harbor in his house while he kept rioters at bay with a shotgun from which he discharged rounds in the air for several hours. When the mob finally left, he had only two rounds remaining:

Another family just blocks away had no such protector. Seven people, including several children, were locked into their house and burned alive. Villagers said they could hear their screams.

I’m a Christian and familiar with Jesus’ words, “Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you,” but at that moment, those words seemed impossible. Honestly, I don’t know that I could sincerely love my enemies. I’m not sure that I could even pray for them.

Although Pakistan’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, blasphemy laws call for the death sentence of anyone who insults the prophet Muhammad or Islam. These laws are often used against Christians by jealous or disgruntled coworkers or neighbors. The incident that sparked the violence in Gojra stemmed from a rumor that a Christian had committed blasphemy at a wedding. It was never proven.

As the relief team took assessments for supplies, our interpreter, also a Christian, turned to me and said, “We see the destruction of their homes, but not the destruction of their lives. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.”

Under the same circumstances, would I draw strength from that promise? Could I endure those kinds of struggles and hardships? I hope so.

The strong faith that undergirds this community is the kind of faith that I want to sustain me.

Reporters don’t just hear about terrible things, we’re encouraged to seek them out and report on them. When your beat involves religion, it can cause some mixed emotions. It’s interesting to me to read how these journalists react to what they’ve witnessed.

I’m no photojournalism expert, but I wanted to highlight the photo essay because of the simplicity and honesty in the pictures. Padilla-Chapman writes that her husband frequently does work for non-profit humanitarian groups. I expected to see photos that were manipulative or maudlin. They aren’t. They seem so accurate and honest.

Since I can’t use any of the Chapman photos to illustrate this post, I thought it might be worth remembering Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother of five facing a death sentence for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed. Punjab governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were both killed this past year for defending her and opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. A delegation overseeing her legal and material aid visited her on December 19 at the prison in Sheikpura where she’s being held in isolation. They say she’s not been allowed to bathe for more than two months, is unable to stand on her own, appeared confused and was afraid to accept the water they offered her to drink. But she told them she has forgiven those who accused her of blasphemy and only wants to return to her family.

Religion and sexual violence

Earlier this week, Mollie suggested that it’s a good time to cover religious liberty questions, as we’ve seen continual reports of violence in Egypt, Iraq and other countries.

In religious liberty issues, sometimes we’ll see an added dimension to violence, such as socioeconomics, race or sex. The New York Times has suggested sex differences may be part of Pakistan’s blasphemy law implications.

Unfortunately, the compelling piece falls under the headline, “In Realm of Religion, Women Lose Out.” The reporter probably did not write the headline, but some copy editor decided that it was fine to generalize that women lose out when it comes to religion. Can you imagine a headline like “In Realm of Men, Women Lose Out”? Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The story still adds an interesting angle to the coverage of Asia Bibi, the woman who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The exact words that led to Ms. Bibi’s prosecution under sections 295-B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code have not been disclosed. Since this was an accusation of blasphemy, to repeat the words would be to perpetuate blasphemy. But they were apparently enough to make her the first woman to be sentenced to death under this law.

Ms. Bibi is still in prison. Early last year, newspapers and human rights advocates said that she had been paraded in the streets and gang-raped in Nankana Sahib, a district in Punjab Province.

This appears to advance the story of Bibi’s sentence, showing how the blasphemy laws in Pakistan may have additional consequences for women. Further into the story, however, Nilanjana S. Roy uses some questionable sources.

The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie notes blasphemy is considered unacceptable regardless of the gender of the accused. But the prohibition is part of a larger web of laws and practices that have served to restrict women’s rights.

Not to diminish Shamsie’s work (which I have not read) or what she is suggesting, but since when do journalists turn to novelists as authorities on the law? Has she done any research or reporting in this area? The reporter goes on to give examples of women in other countries who have faces threats related to religion.

For Asian women, the consequences of questioning or speaking out against faith can be particularly sharp. In the early 1990s, the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s novel “Lajja” was banned, and she was forced into exile for her apparently blasphemous call for revisions to the Koran.

…In Britain, performances of “Behzti,” a play by Gurpreet Bhatti set in a gudwara, or Sikh temple, that explored sexual violence within the British Sikh community were shut down shortly after its opening in 2004. The play was not performed until 2010, six years after Ms. Bhatti had received abduction and death threats from other Sikhs.

We see a generalization of “Asian women” “speaking out against faith,” but not all countries are alike. It’s unclear whether these particular examples are a result of something like Pakistan’s blasphemy law, for example. Further into the article, we see another “expert” on how religion oppresses women.

“Religion is assumed to be the domain of men, and women do not have much role in it,” the Indian feminist writer and publisher Urvashi Butalia said in an interview.

“But women generally do not have the right to question religion–this is something men hold on to tightly, and it’s not only in Islam. Look at all those so-called honor killings in India–all of them under the guise of religious sanction and tradition.”

Again, Butalia is entitled to her opinion and perhaps she has done some research in this area, but why is she seen as an authority in this area? Does her title as a feminist writer and publisher in Asia qualify her to discuss sexual violence and blasphemy laws in Pakistan?

This is the context against which Aasia Bibi’s case should be understood.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been used to persecute ethnic and religious minorities and to shut down free speech in general. But, as Ms. Butalia noted, there is a difference even here for women like Ms. Bibi and now Ms. Rehman.

…”If Aasia was let off, she would have to live all her life with the tag of ‘bad’ or ‘blasphemous’ woman,” she said. “The threat of rape–the traditional weapon of humiliation–is very real indeed.”

Despite some of the sources and generalizations, the story shows how laws with religious overtones can also carry implications for people based on their sex. Hopefully we’ll see more reporters continue to explore these kinds of angles.

Image of Pakistani woman via Wikimedia Commons.

A shower of labels in Pakistan

The mainstream coverage of the shocking assassination of the Punjab governor in Pakistan is a gripping example of job reporters continue to struggle to know how to describe the clashing doctrinal and cultural armies within the complex world of Islam.

The New York Times article is, of course, must reading if you want to gospel according to the Northeast media corridor. It’s crucial to understand that most elite journalists are deeply committed to thinking that Pakistan is a predominately secular and, of course, “moderate” nation that is struggling to control a small number of radical Muslims who, in this story, are even referred to as the “religious right.”

In other words, “secular” is good and “religious” is bad. The more religious people are the more dangerous they are. That’s the rational, American point of view. Correct?

Thus, the reason this bloody event has been so shocking is because the nation’s alleged “moderate,” secular, majority has remained silent, refusing to condemn the action of the “religious” assassin. Here is the top of the Times report.

As always, when reading this pay special attention to the labels used, as opposed to any hard, factual information about what these various groups believe about crucial issues in Pakistani life.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The emotional funeral of the assassinated governor of Punjab and the cheering of his killer in court Wednesday highlighted the intensifying struggle between secular and religious forces in Pakistan that has grown nastier than ever in the country’s history.

As the 26-year-old assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, appeared before a magistrate in Islamabad, to be charged with murder and terrorism, he was showered by hundreds of supporters with rose petals and garlands. Moderate religious leaders refused to condemn the assassination, and some hard-line religious leaders appeared obliquely to condone the attack.

Meanwhile, thousands of mourners thronged to the funeral in Lahore of the governor, Salman Taseer, a prominent voice for secularism who had recently become the focus of religious fury for speaking out against the nation’s strict blasphemy laws. Many of the nation’s top politicians, including Mr. Taseer’s chief rival in Punjab and the leader of the opposition, Nawaz Sharif, did not attend the services. Neither did President Asif Ali Zardari, a friend and ally of Mr. Taseer, but out concern for his own security.

Government ministers and party officials indicated that they were dropping the campaign to change the blasphemy laws that Mr. Taseer had championed. No senior official would be drawn to comment on the religious extremist aspect of the killing at the funeral.

As the story goes on, it is clear that one of two things are true.

Either (a) the overwhelming majority of people in Pakistan support blasphemy laws, which, for example, make it illegal for a Muslim to “insult the prophet” by converting to another faith (a right protected in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Then again, (b) it is also possible that many oppose blasphemy laws, yet know that their own government and its security forces are so divided on the issue that it is impossible to speak freely in Pakistan without being killed. Thus, the story notes:

At a market in Islamabad on Tuesday, Mr. Qadri pumped more than 20 rounds into Mr. Taseer’s back, Pakistani media reported, and yet was not fired on by any other member of the security detail, raising still more questions about whether any of the others knew of his plans in advance.

Mr. Qadri immediately surrendered, called himself a “slave of the Prophet,” and indicated that he had killed Mr. Taseer for his campaign against the blasphemy law. …

Half a dozen policemen interviewed while on duty around the city of Lahore voiced support for the assassin or refused to condemn the murder. “He acted according to his conscience,” one said. “What is done is Allah’s will,” another said.

It is interesting to note that the Times elected not to link this horrific event with another religious issue that currently has Pakistan at a boiling point. I refer to the November sentencing of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, to death for blasphemy. Pope Benedict XVI and many other human-rights activists have called for her release. Her case is on appeal.

All of this, of course, has little or nothing to do with religion. Keep that in mind.

The crucial question that journalists need to answer in stories on this issue cannot be answered with mere labels. What readers need is precise information. The crucial question? Instead of using labels, reporters could state whether the groups or persons discussed in this particular story support the nation’s blasphemy law, either by action or by silence. Other stories would focus on different questions, digging out information on different issues, as required.

Sadly, vague labels also dominated many other stories on this event. Consider the top of the Associated Press report:

Lawyers showered the suspected assassin of a liberal Pakistani governor with rose petals as he entered court. Some 170 miles away, the prime minister joined thousands to mourn the loss of the politician, who dared to challenge the demands of Islamic extremists.

The cheers and tears across the country Wednesday underscored Pakistan’s journey over the past several decades from a nation defined by moderate Islam to one increasingly influenced by fundamentalists willing to use violence to impose their views.

Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri for allegedly killing Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities he acted because of Taseer’s vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.

And Reuters? At least this story noted the wider context, which means the Bibi case — which is ironclad.

A politician gunned down over his opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws was buried on Wednesday after a murder likely to cow further those pushing for a more liberal and secular vision of Pakistani society.

Five hundred Pakistani religious scholars said that anyone who expressed grief over the assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, could suffer the same fate.

Taseer, a liberal politician close to President Asif Ali Zardari, had championed the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws which critics say are used to target religious minorities, often to settle personal scores.

Once again, what readers need is some succinct, focused information about the issues and actions that are involved in this kind of life-and-death story — not vague labels.

Explore Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, please

A Christian woman in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

That’s a hard story to cover. The Telegraph report about Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five who denies the charge and says she is being persecuted for her faith, includes these details:

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.

“I haven’t told two of my younger daughters about the court’s decision,” he said. “They asked me many times about their mother but I can’t get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed.” Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.

The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore “unclean”, according to Mrs Bibi’s evidence, sparking a row.

The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.

The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: “The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

“So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her.” He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.

The Telegraph story is very thorough, including the fact that while no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as many as 10 people have been murdered while on trial for it. Compare that to the CNN report which simply mentioned that the death sentences are rarely carried out.

Generally the foreign press did a bit better on these reports. For instance, Agence France-Presse mentioned the two Christian brothers who were shot and killed last year while on trial for blasphemy. And here’s the BBC story about those killings.

The one thing that I was curious about — and didn’t find an answer to in any of the stories — is whether Bibi’s gender will have a role in her eventual punishment. For instance, while the penalty for males who apostatize is widely believed to be death, for females there are more options, including life imprisonment. Is Pakistan’s blasphemy law similarly structured with different penalties for males and females?

And on that note, it would be nice to get a bit more understanding of where these blasphemy laws come from, how they’re justified, and how Muslims inside and outside Pakistan view them. Sure, it’s good to know that human rights groups around the world condemn these laws. But how are these laws viewed within Muslim communities? It would help to find out a bit more about that.

Once again, there is no one Islam. There is no one unified approach to Sharia law, either. Readers need more facts to understand these clashes in beliefs within Islam.

BBC: Another generic, mysterious ‘honor killing’ (updated)

This time the bloody honor killing took place in a public place, for all to see — outside the Lahore High Court. The short BBC report noted:

Police said 30-year old Farzana Bibi died on the spot after being attacked with bricks and sticks. Her father handed himself in, but police say her brothers and former fiance, who also took part in the attack, were still free. …

Farzana Bibi’s parents accused her husband, Muhammad Iqbal, of kidnapping her, and had filed a case against him at the High Court. However, she testified to police that she had married him of her own accord. Police said the couple had been engaged for a number of years.

Religion, apparently, had nothing to do with this event, which was said to be a mere cultural phenomenon. However, the report ended by noting:

Under Pakistani law, the victim’s family is allowed to forgive the killer. However, in many cases family members are themselves responsible for the killing.

And what legal system forms the foundation of Pakistani law? What, for example, has been the root cause for the headline-generating Pakistan cases in which believers in a minority faith, usually Christianity, are accused of apostasy against the faith at the heart of the nation’s government and culture?

(By the way, the Associated Press included — in its lede — another detail BBC missed or omitted, the fact that Bibi was pregnant at the time she was murdered.)

There is no need to dwell on the Islamic element of this crime and it would be wrong to suggest that all Muslims in Pakistan, and elsewhere, practice, accept or ignore “honor killings.” In fact, a Washington Post report on this same crime did an excellent job of including the essential details. For example:

[Read more...]

Surprising twist in Pakistani Christian child’s blasphemy case

A few weeks ago, we looked at coverage of the arrest of an 11-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan on blasphemy charges. She’d been accused of burning pages of the Quran. We had discussed the slight American coverage of the story, compared to interest in English-language press elsewhere. We also noted that there was a failure to talk to people who supported the blasphemy charge against the child.

The Associated Press has an update to the story:

A Muslim cleric is accused of stashing pages of a Quran in a Christian girl’s bag to make it seem like she burned the Islamic holy book, a surprising twist in a case that caused an international outcry over the country’s strict blasphemy laws.

Pakistani police arrested Khalid Chishti late Saturday after a member of the cleric’s mosque accused the imam of planting evidence as a way to push the Christians out of the neighborhood. Chishti denied the charges Sunday while being led to court in shackles, wearing a white blindfold.

Chishti is quoted as saying the charges were fabricated. We’re told that the imam’s arrest means the girl might be released. She currently faces a life sentence. Not mentioned in the story is that even if she’s released, she risks death by mob, a not uncommon penalty for people released from jail after blasphemy charges.

A Christian woman from the girls’ neighborhood is quoted and we learn more about the charges against Chishti:

Police said Chishti planted pages of a Quran in a shopping bag containing burned papers and ash that had been carried by the Christian girl. The bag was then submitted as evidence to the police.

A member of his mosque came forward Saturday — more than two weeks after the girl’s arrest — and accused the imam of planting the evidence, said the investigating officer, Munir Jaffery.

The case has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the punishments for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and caused an uproar in the country, largely because of the girl’s age and questions about her mental capacity.

The big “so what” about this case is handled well by the Associated Press. Human rights observers from within and outside Pakistan have been sounding the alarm about the country’s blasphemy laws, but people who bring blasphemy charges are rarely investigated, much less arrested for abusing the law. The article also suggests a reason for why investigation of those accusing others of blasphemy might not happen much:

Ali Dayan Hasan, head of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, said the decision to act against the cleric was “unprecedented.”

“What it indicates is a genuine attempt at investigation rather than blaming the victim, which is what normally happens in blasphemy cases,” said Hasan. “They are actually taking a look at incitement to violence and false allegations. It is a welcome and positive development.”

Few leaders have been willing to tackle the contentious issue after two prominent politicians who criticized the law were murdered last year. One was shot by his own bodyguard, who then attracted adoring crowds.

The article also quotes local Muslims who say that the charges against their religious leader were trumped up by a problem-causing fellow member, that there are no problems with the blasphemy laws and if anything, there hasn’t been enough punishment for blasphemy. These local residents, we’re told, also believe the girl to be guilty. For that reason, it would have been nice to explore, even briefly, what her release might mean in terms of her safety. Still, a good story that helps explain some of the contours for this tricky situation. And I’m glad to see that Muslims who support the blasphemy laws and their execution were quoted in the piece.

Another example of quoting Muslims who support the laws comes from Reuters, which gave them a voice right at the top of the story:

Some Muslim neighbours insist [the girl] should still be punished, and said the detained imam was a victim.

Under Muslim Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law, the mere allegation of causing offence to Islam can mean death. Those accused are sometimes killed by members of the public even if they are found innocent by the courts.

“Pour petrol and burn these Christians,” said Iqbal Bibi, 74, defending the imam on the steps of the mosque where he preaches in Masih’s impoverished village of Mehr Jaffer.

“The cleric of the mosque has been oppressed. He is not at fault. He is innocent.”

The lengthy Reuters report includes some good historical context about how blasphemy is treated officially and extra-judicially in Pakistan, how that is particularly bad news for Christians, and how people are responding to the present situation in different ways.

I’d still like more information from this subset of Muslims who seek capital punishment for the child on particularly why they believe that to be just or why Christians should be killed, but this is a good start and helps outsiders get a beginning look at the troubles facing this region in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Assassination, abduction and blasphemy

I was wondering about a reporter friend I met in Jerusalem so I stopped by her Facebook page and was surprised to see a few links to stories about the abduction of the son of Salman Taseer. Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was assassinated at the very beginning of this year by his own bodyguard. That bodyguard was upset about Taseer’s opposition to blasphemy laws carrying the death sentence for insulting Islam. Taseer was riddled by gunshots, shot in the back. The response to his assassination, the most high-profile one since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed a few years prior, was perhaps even more shocking.

The 26-year-old assassin was showered by hundreds of supporters with rose petals and garlands when he appeared in court. News reports mentioned that moderate religious leaders refused to condemn the assassination, and some clergy flat out supported the attack.

Taseer was also called a moderate or liberal Muslim. A couple of months later, the Christian federal minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was also gunned down. He was also killed for speaking out against a brutal blasphemy law. The law isn’t just theoretical. Christian Asia Noreen Bibi has been on death row under the law for some time now.

And now Taseer’s son Shahbaz has been kidnapped. My main complaint about the coverage is that it’s lacking. You can actually find hundreds of stories in the Pakistani press and in the European press. But the stories stateside are much harder to come by.

The Los Angeles Times did publish a story, which you can read here. And Time actually has an economical but informative story about the current situation facing those who oppose capital punishment for “blasphemy.” Here’s a sample:

The abduction has plunged many Pakistanis into a state of disbelief. With memories of the assassination still fresh in many minds, there are fears both for the family and for the future of a country where such incidents can take place. “Somehow, after Salmaan’s assassination, the family had picked up the pieces,” says a friend of the Taseers. “Now how does anyone cope after a horrific incident like this?” On Jan. 4, Governor Taseer — an outspoken advocate of religious tolerance — was gunned down with 27 bullets by one of his own elite bodyguards. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, confessed to his crime with chilling pride. “This is the punishment for a blasphemer,” Qadri declared. He belonged not to a fundamentalist or militant group but to the Sufi-leaning Barelvi school of Islam.

The reaction to the assassination was no less shocking. Within moments of Taseer’s murder, Qadri was hailed as a hero by a broad section of mainstream Pakistani society. In the months before he was killed, Taseer had been robustly campaigning against the country’s vaguely worded blasphemy laws that have been consistently invoked against religious minorities. In particular, Taseer demanded the release of Aasia Noreen, a poor farmhand, who became the first Christian woman to face the death penalty under those laws. The governor’s rare and forceful opposition was twisted and cast as an act of blasphemy itself. When Qadri appeared at court, he was garlanded and cheered by a group of lawyers.

In the ensuing months, not only has Qadri evaded conviction, but the Taseer family has also endured a series of further threats. Despite Qadri’s confession, the court has convened only fitfully, dragging out the trial. “The government set a very bad precedent in the aftermath of Salmaan Taseer’s death by not seeking to hold his murderer accountable,” says Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director for Human Rights Watch. “There has been no movement on the case, and the failure to prosecute and convict the self-confessed murderer is a sign of both incompetence and an appeasement of extremists.” It is this form of surrender, Hasan says, that emboldens further lawlessness in Pakistan.

Very well written by Omar Waraich. I hadn’t realized, for instance, that Taseer’s family had faced further threats or that the trial wasn’t being run fairly.

I realize that America has its own troubles, particularly with the economy. I understand that reporters here are focused internally and obsessed with politics. But Americans also need to know what’s going on in Pakistan. Daily updates might not make sense, but covering the latest dramatic situation involving (presumably) the blasphemy laws there does make sense. It doesn’t take that much room and helps those of us stateside be less myopic about the plight of Pakistan.