Rimsha Masih’s Unending Nightmare

Posted By on April 3, 2013

Pakistan ChristiansFrank Crimi in FrontPage

After being acquitted in January of blasphemy charges, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has now reopened the case against Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl afflicted with Down syndrome.

After being acquitted in January 2013 of blasphemy charges, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has now reopened the case against Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl believed to suffer from mental disabilities.

Rimsha’s case had drawn international attention as well as corresponding outrage after the young girl was arrested  at her home in August 2012 and charged with blasphemy upon being accused by a Muslim neighbor of allegedly burning pages from a Koran.

It should be noted that running afoul of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws can earn sentences of death or life in prison for those convicted of desecrating Islam’s holy book or insulting its Prophet Muhammad.

For her part, Rimsha, who worked as a maid at the time, denied through her attorney any blasphemous wrongdoing, claiming she was simply burning garbage and “did not know a Koranic book was among the papers because she cannot read.”

Moreover, Pakistan’s Minister for National Harmony, Paul Bhatti, said that given Rimsha’s mental disorder, it was unlikely the young girl had “purposefully desecrated the Koran.”

Unfortunately, Rimsha’s illiteracy and mental impairment were not persuasive enough arguments in which to prevent Pakistani police from incarcerating the young girl for the alleged heretical act.

Yet, in September 2012, Rimsha’s case seemingly took a turn for the better when Pakistani police arrested a local Muslim cleric, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, and charged him with planting the burned Koranic pages in an effort to frame Rimsha.

According to a police official Chishti “put pages into the ashes, showed them to the people of the area, and gathered them to attack the girl’s house.”

Those charges were corroborated by three officials from Chishti’s mosque who told a judge that Chishti’s attempt to incriminate Rimsha was part of a broader plan by the cleric to oust Christians living in the poor Mehrabad neighborhood of Islamabad where Rimsha and her family lived.

Of course, that revelation most likely raised few eyebrows given that Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes are often used and abused to either settle personal scores or as weapons in which persecute religious minorities, such as Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis.

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Saudi Arabia to Give Public Beheadings the Axe?

Posted By on March 21, 2013

saudi executionFrank Crimi in FrontPage

A lack of qualified swordsmen may relegate the barbaric Saudi practice of public beheadings to the historical ash heap, although such a change is unlikely to slow down the swelling numbers of people being put to death in the Saudi Kingdom.

A lack of qualified swordsmen may relegate the barbaric Saudi practice of public beheadings to the historical ash heap, although such a change is unlikely to slow down the swelling numbers of people being put to death in the Saudi Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s Sharia-based judicial system has long considered public beheadings, along with the occasional crucifixion and stoning, to be acceptable Islamic forms of capital punishment.

While those punishments come to those convicted of murder, rape, sodomy, drug trafficking, and armed robbery, other offenses, such as apostasy, adultery, drug use, and witchcraft can also earn a date with the swordsman.

However, a Saudi government committee has found that an alarming “scarcity of swordsmen and their unavailability in a number of regions” cannot keep pace with the several thousand people estimated to be on death row throughout Saudi Arabia’s 13 administrative regions.

As a result, the committee recommended that firing squads be used as an acceptable method of execution for capital sentences, one which would not only be cost effective but limit the unprofessional specter of executioners either running late for their appointed rounds or showing up at the wrong venue.

That latter problem was specifically highlighted in the committee report, which found that swordsmen delayed by excess travel requirements “causes security confusion” an issue exacerbated by “the resulting spreading of rumors through modern technology.”

While some Saudis may have feared that firing squads would not be Sharia compliant, those concerns were allayed by the committee which found the practice “does not constitute a religious violation.”

That viewpoint was reaffirmed by a senior Saudi cleric, Sheikh Ali Al-Hakami, who said, “Beheading by sword is the best way to achieve the purpose of punishment in Islam because it does not cause any torture.”

Of course, that opinion may be clearly up for debate for those facing a public beheading, a form of execution that usually takes place in town squares, such as the one in the capital of Riyadh, known menacingly as “Chop Chop Square.”

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Torching Christians in Pakistan

Posted By on March 14, 2013

pakistan burningFrank Crimi in FrontPage

In the latest act of bruising intolerance being perpetrated by Muslims against Pakistan’s besieged Christian community, a Muslim mob burned down over 150 Christian homes and two churches over allegations that a Christian man had committed blasphemy.

In the latest act of bruising intolerance being perpetrated by Muslims against Pakistan’s besieged Christian community, a Muslim mob recently burned down over 150 Christian homes and two churches over allegations that a Christian man had committed blasphemy.

The rioting, which occurred in the Pakistani city of Lahore, began after a Muslim man accused Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian, of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, an allegation punishable by death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Even though Pakistani police had swiftly arrested Masih, Christian families nevertheless hurriedly fled the area in fear of Muslim reprisals, an exodus which proved fortuitous given the ensuing Muslim rampage.

Once the mob’s fury had been spent, Christians slowly made their way back to their burned-out homes, leaving one Christian surveying the destruction to lament, “Nothing is left here. I don’t know why this happened.”

The answer to that question, unfortunately, is exceedingly clear given the type of barbaric treatment routinely meted out by Muslims to those Christians and other religious minorities unfortunate enough to run afoul of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

Those statutes, first introduced in 1986 by Pakistani military dictator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, can earn sentences of death or life in prison for those found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad or desecrating its holy book, the Koran.

To that end, 20 Pakistanis convicted of blasphemy are currently serving life sentences while another 16 are sitting on death row awaiting their appointed date with the executioner.

Among those currently slated to die is Younis Masih, a Christian father of four who has been on death row since 2007 and Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who in 2010 was the first Pakistani woman convicted for blasphemy and sentenced to death by hanging.

Younis Masih’s heretical act occurred in September 2005 when he was arrested after he had reportedly asked a group of Muslims who were holding a religious service one evening in a nearby house to turn their music down.

Bibi’s transgression against Islam came in 2009 after a verbal disagreement with some Muslim women in her village led Bibi to claim that Christians and Muslims are equal before God, an affront apparently stinging enough to lead to her being accused of having blasphemed against Mohammad.

It should be noted, that while Muslim nations throughout Africa, the Mideast and Asia — such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Iran — have similar blasphemy laws, few enforce those laws with the zeal of Pakistanis.

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The Kidnapping of Coptic Girls

Posted By on March 8, 2013

coptic girlsFrank Crimi in FrontPage

While Muslims in Egypt riot over a false rumor that a Muslim woman was forced to convert to Christianity, Coptic women and girls continue to be abducted on a near daily basis and forced to convert to Islam. 

When a rumor circulated last week that a Muslim woman in the southern Egyptian city of Kom Ombo had been forcibly converted to Christianity, a mob of Muslims felt compelled to riot, attacking and firebombing the city’s local Coptic Christian church.

The rioting in Kom Ombo had begun when local Muslim residents believed a missing 36-year-old Muslim woman had been forced to convert to Christianity and was being held against her will in the Church of Mar Girgis, Kom Ombo’s largest Coptic Church.

That transgression was apparently egregious enough to induce hundreds of local Muslims to surround the church for three days hurling Molotov Cocktails and rocks, a melee that caused injury to over two dozen Christians and Egyptian police.

Of course, it should be noted that Copts, who make up 10 percent of Egypt’s populace, are used to being on the receiving end of Muslim ire, having seen over the past several years scores of their churches routinely attacked and burned.

In fact, Muslim rage at Coptic churches and their parishioners extends beyond Egyptian borders, fury evidenced by the recent attack by gunmen of an Egyptian Coptic church in the Libyan city of Benghazi that injured two priests.

That assault had been preceded by the arrest of nearly 50 Egyptian Christians in Benghazi on suspicion of proselytizing, detention which included the Christians reportedly being tortured by, among other things, having their tattooed crosses burned off with acid.

Nevertheless, the mob fury in Kom Ombo began to dissipate somewhat when the missing woman reappeared to her family, where according to an Egyptian police official, it was found that she was not the victim of a forced conversion but rather had disappeared for “family and social reasons.”

Yet, while the rumor of the forced conversion was revealed to be a fake, what is all too real is the ongoing and escalating abduction and forced conversion to Islam of Coptic Christian women and girls by Egyptian Muslims.

While this distressing practice has been plaguing Egypt’s Coptic community for decades, the number of these abduction cases, perhaps not surprisingly, has dramatically grown since the January 2011 ouster of Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak.

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Al Jazeera Star: Death to Apostates

Posted By on February 20, 2013

QaradawiFrank Crimi in FrontPage

The host of a popular Al Jazeera television show, a highly influential Islamic cleric with a long history of poisonous views toward women, homosexuals and Jews, has now sanctioned the killing of those who leave Islam. 

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, host of a popular Al Jazeera television show and a highly influential Islamic cleric with a long history of poisonous views toward women, homosexuals and Jews, has now sanctioned the killing of those who leave Islam.

The 86-year-old Egyptian-born cleric, who has been called the spiritual and intellectual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, aired his enlightened views on the deadly Islamic punishment for apostates on a recent broadcast of Shariah and Life — his long-running program that enjoys an estimated worldwide audience of 60 million viewers.

Qaradawi addressed his Al Jazeera viewers, quoting from a series of Koranic verses and hadiths, which read in part, “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle is that they should be murdered or crucified…Kill whomever changes his faith [from Islam]…”

Moreover, according to Qaradawi, Islam’s diligent use of executing apostates had served to ensure Islam’s survival since the 15th century, telling viewers that “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment Islam wouldn’t exist today.”

Unfortunately, Qaradawi’s on-air fatwa carries some considerable weight given his standing as one of the most influential Sunni Muslim clerics in the world, prominence gained as host of Shariah and Life, founder of the popular website IslamOnline and author of over 100 books on Islam.

Yet, while Qaradawi has studiously over the years tried to posit himself as the tolerant face of Islam, his efforts have been belied by his long-standing endorsement of, among other things, wife beating, Palestinian suicide bombers, and the killing of homosexuals and Jews.

For starters Qaradawi believes it acceptable under Islam to punish disobedient wives by using them as human speed bags, having once said that while beating a wife is “neither obligatory nor desirable” it is “acceptable as a method of last resort – though only lightly.”

For those who may be unclear as to what Qaradawi defines as “lightly,” one can reference his 1984 book, The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, in which he wrote “a husband may beat his wife lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas.”

While Qaradawi sees being cuffed around as the Islamic price a woman pays for being disobedient to her spouse, he also believes being raped is the Islamic price a woman pays for being immodestly dressed.

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Afghan Woman Forced to Marry Her Rapist

Posted By on February 7, 2013

634305-gulnazFrank Crimi in FrontPage

A year after she was pardoned from prison on the condition she agree to marry her rapist, a young Afghan woman, faced with distressingly few options, has now reluctantly wed her attacker.

A year after she was pardoned from prison on the condition she agree to marry her rapist, a young Afghan woman, faced with distressingly few options, has now reluctantly wed her attacker.

In 2009, Gulnaz, then 16 years old, gained international attention after she was raped by her cousin’s husband and sentenced to 12 years in an Afghan prison for “forced adultery,” during which time she gave birth to a daughter fathered by her defiler.

Unfortunately, being imprisoned for having the temerity to be a victim of rape is not unusual in Afghanistan, evidenced by the fact that more than 50 percent of Afghanistan’s female prison population has been jailed for moral crimes, such as “forced adultery” or “zina” (extramarital sex).

Yet, nevertheless, after spending two and a half years in jail, Gulnaz was offered a pardon in December 2011 by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, albeit on the condition Gulnaz marry her rapist.

Karzai’s decision, however, wasn’t particularly surprising given that the Afghan police and judicial response to violence inflicted upon women — deeply rooted in Afghan custom and Islamic law — is to either ignore the crimes or, in most cases, send the women back to their abusers.

Still, Karzai’s decision engendered enough international and domestic outrage to prompt the Afghan president to graciously release Gulnaz without the precondition she wed her rapist.

Sadly for Gulnaz, presidential decree notwithstanding, her family was bent on having her marry her attacker, a decision based on the fact Gulnaz’s status as an unwed mother made her a social pariah who had brought shame upon her family.

In fact, reports surfaced that prior to her release Gulnaz’s brothers had threatened to kill her daughter, threats which prompted Gulnaz to seek sanctuary in a women’s shelter. There Gulnaz spent over a year while her family and the rapist’s family haggled over terms of the marriage.

Those marital conditions included a reported demand for the rapist’s family to give a daughter to Gulnaz’s family, part of the traditional Afghan practice known as “baad,” whereupon women are given away to pay family debts or settle disputes.

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