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11941
“Pakistani Woman Appeals Death Sentence for 'blasphemy'”
by Compass Direct News   
November 15th, 2010
LAHORE, Pakistan, November 13– Attorneys for a Christian mother of five sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, have filed an appeal of the verdict, they said. Bowing to pressure from Muslim extremists in Pakistan, according to the Christian woman’s husband and rights groups, a district court judge handed down the stunning sentence to Asia Noreen on Monday (Nov. 8). Naveed Ahmed Chaudhary delivered the verdict under Pakistan’s controversial “blasphemy” statute, the kind of law that a resolution before the United Nations condemning “defamation of religions” would make legitimate internationally. Noreen is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s widely condemned law against defaming Islam. Her lawyer, Chaudhry Tahir Shahzad, said that among other allegations, she was accused of denying that Muhammad was a prophet. “How can we expect a Christian to affirm a Muslim belief?” Shahzad said. Noreen has been languishing in isolation in jail since June of last year after she argued with fellow field workers in Ittanwali village who were trying to pressure her into renouncing Christianity. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, told Compass that the argument began after the wife of an Ittanwali elder sent her to fetch water in Nankana Sahib district, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Lahore in Punjab Province. On June 19, 2009, Masih said, the Muslim women suddenly raised a commotion, accusing Noreen of defaming Muhammad. “Several Muslim men working in the nearby fields reached the spot and forced their way into our house, where they tortured Asia and the children,” said Masih, who confirmed that his wife is 45 years old and that they have five children – four girls and a boy, the oldest daughter 20. “Asia has been convicted on false charges. We have never, ever insulted the prophet Muhammad or the Quran.” Chaudhary also fined her 100,000 rupees (US$1,150).
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