(CNS News) — The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, are launching a new initiative to report on the religious persecution of Christians in Nigeria where, over the last two decades, an estimated 60,000 Christians have been killed.
“The effort is similar to what we have done in Iraq and is based in the hope that greater attention by American diplomacy and humanitarian aid can make a difference there,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in an Aug. 6 press release.
According to the Knights, “last year, the British Government reported that the persecution of Christians around the world is ‘near genocide levels.’”
The group added that the Global Terrorism Index lists Nigeria as having the third largest terrorist domination, behind Afghanistan and Iraq. Nigeria is in the center-west of Africa, between Benin and Cameroon, with a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus have spent more than $25 million in aid for people persecuted in the Middle East.
Anderson and the Knights were influential in helping provide evidence for the religious persecution in the Middle East, work that put pressure on the U.S. State Department to declare that genocide was taking place in both Iraq and Syria.
Anderson testified several times before Congress about the issue, and the Knights sent researchers to Iraq to report on the situation. From their work, a 300-page report was compiled and submitted to the State Department. “Our efforts made a tremendous difference,” Anderson said of the Middle East initiative.
The group hopes to build upon the successes of their previous initiative in their new one in Nigeria.
The Knights of Columbus are one of the world’s leading service organizations with 2 million members. Last year, the group donated more than 77 million service hours and $187 million to worthy causes in their communities.
Meanwhile, ominously, following his brave radio interview Dr Obadiah Mailafia has been “invited” to the headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS, the security service) in Jos, the Plateau State capital. See:
And a coalition of parties has begun legal proceedings aimed at bringing about the removal of Nigeria’s armed service chiefs – who are all beyond retirement age – due to the critical, comprehensive and continuing deterioration in the security situation, and the decline in army moral, which was starkly illustrated by the recent mass request for retirement of 380 soldiers.
An interview with the former Deputy Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank, Dr Obadiah Mailafia.
This interview gives a historical context for the current violence.
– He calls those peddling the herder-farmer narrative “accessories to genocide”
– He condemns the recent statement by the presidency regarding the causes of the violence and the government’s continued inaction.
– He supports General TY Danjuma’s assertion that the army colludes with perpetrators, citing the Late General Abacha’s statement that if an insurgency continues for more than two days, then government has a hand in it. According to him the government is not only unable and unwilling to stem the violence, but also complicit.
– Worryingly, he claims he has interviewed repentant bandits/armed herdsmen, who have informed him a current governor in northern Nigeria is the leader of Boko Haram; that the group has already infiltrated southern Nigeria and that the bandits and Boko Haram work in tandem.
This last point is particularly striking as news emerged a few days ago about Leah Sharibu through a lady named Juliet who was abducted along with others by bandits who sell their captives on to Boko Haram.
She saw Boko Haram fighters visit the place where she was being held. She said they generally take female captives and kill the men.
She too refused to renounce her faith and was asked whether she wanted to “be like Leah Sharibu,” who is currently in the hands of a Boko Haram commander.
Her pastor managed to raise money for her release, and fortunately, her captors needed the money more.
She has related her story to Nigerian media.
This story uillustrates a clear link between Boko Haram and Fulani armed non state actors.
Al Qaeda-linked group claims attack in northwestern Nigeria | FDD’s Long War Journal;
US warns Nigeria about al Qaeda in Borno. See end
Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL6991):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 4,000 people were discharged from hospital into care homes without being tested for the virus. (HL6991)
Tabled on: 20 July 2020
Throughout our COVID-19 response we have worked with the care sector and public health experts to put in place measures to reduce transmission and save lives. It has been our priority to ensure that everyone is discharged safely from hospital and to the most appropriate available place. Wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence, where assessment of longer-term needs will take place. This approach follows the ‘Discharge to Assess’ model, to support timely and appropriate discharge from hospital.
The Hospital Discharge Service and staff should clarify with care homes the COVID-19 status of an individual and any COVID-19 symptoms, during the process of transfer from a hospital to the care home. As testing capacity was being built priority for testing was given to the most clinically vulnerable patients:
– all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu like illness;
– all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu like illness; and
– where an outbreak has occurred in a residential or care setting, for example long-term care facility or prisons.
As set out in the Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April, all patients are now required to be tested prior to discharge to a care home.
Date and time of answer: 10 Aug 2020 at 11:00.
Freedom of press stripped to “terrorise and engender fear” in Hong Kong
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong have condemned the arrest of pro-democracy media owner Jimmy Lai, as well as 6 of his colleagues and the raid of the Apple Daily newsroom, in Hong Kong under the National Security Law. The APPG, Co-Chaired by parliamentarians Baroness Bennett and Alistair Carmichael MP, believe this move is a fundamental denial of press freedom that has been used to “drive a stake into the very heart of Hong Kong’s freedoms and liberties”.
Lai’s newspaper Apple Daily is regularly critical of Beijing and is an openly pro-democracy publication. The arrests were made under the newly imposed offence of “collusion with foreign forces”. Since the law was introduced on the 30th of June, many pro-democracy figures have been arrested and the elections slated for September have been postponed for 12 months in a move condemned by the British, American, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand governments.
The APPG recently published its inquiry report into human rights abuses in Hong Kong, which also sheds light on the abuse journalists have faced for covering the pro-democracy movement. The APPG on Hong Kong concluded that press freedoms are under significant attack and that the “world should be using their freedoms to denounce this wrongful arrest”.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, Vice-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said:
“Jimmy Lai’s arrest vividly illustrates the way in which the Chinese Communist Party will use its new Security Law to drive a stake into the very heart of Kong Kong’s freedoms and liberties, most notably the freedom of the press and anyone who dares to express support for democracy and free speech. The arrest of a leading dissident voice, along with members of his family, is straight out of the Communist Party hand-book – a favourite ploy of Mao and Stalin – designed to terrorise and engender fear.
“When a frightened regime has to crush the media, and even has to arrest participants in a candlelit vigil, it tells you all you need to know, but history teaches us that such regimes ultimately die from their own poison. Courageous people like Jimmy Lai, whom I have met, are the antidote to that poison. All over the world journalists and parliamentarians should be using their freedom to denounce this wrongful arrest and to tell the story of what Jimmy Lai’s arrest symbolises.”
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7317):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether they have sufficient powers under the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa scheme to prevent the benefits of the scheme being enjoyed by individuals who have (1) participated in, (2) planned, or (3) encouraged, the perpetration of human rights abuses in Hong Kong. (HL7317)
Tabled on: 27 July 2020
The offer we have set out for British Nationals (Overseas), BN(O)s, is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face, and in light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong.
The Home Secretary set out in Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa Policy Statement on 22 July. In line with the eligibility requirements for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa, BN(O)s and their dependants will need to be able to demonstrate that they have no serious criminal convictions, have not otherwise engaged in behaviour which the UK Government deems not conducive to the public good, or be subject to other general grounds for refusal set out in the Immigration Rules.
Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2020 at 16:15.
Uniquely, people with disabilities are they only group of people who may be legally aborted right up to birth. That’s what happens to over 90% of people with Downs. Now, rather than challenging this endless killing, the U.K. Government says it will make it even easier. Care and kill, defend and destroy, equality and discrimination, can never be used as synonyms. Search and destroy should be replaced by love and embrace.
In a statement today, The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign say:
Govt announce roll-out of new Down’s syndrome test that will likely see rise in abortions
The number of babies with Down’s Syndrome aborted is likely to increase following a decision announced by the Government.
People with Down’s syndrome, their families and campaign groups are very disappointed that a new prenatal test that is projected to lead to a profound increase in the number of children with Down’s syndrome screened out by termination is going to be rolled out by the Department of Health and Social Care without responding to the very real concerns of those in the Down’s syndrome community.
The UK Government has announced plans to procurement and roll-out of the non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) technique called ‘cell-free DNA’ (cfDNA) to all health boards in England.
Recently, an investigation by The Sunday Times found that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome has fallen by 30% in the small number of NHS hospitals that have introduced the new form of screening.
This situation is set to get worse as the Government with the rollout of the test across England.
The National Institute for Health and Research RAPID evaluation study projects that the proposed implementation will result in more babies with Down’s syndrome being identified each year and based on the current 90% of parents with a diagnosis that terminate a pregnancy, this is projected to result in more terminations where babies have the condition.
In its 2017 report on NIPT the Nuffield Council of Bioethics warned that the UK National Screening Committee should take better consideration of the particular consequences, some perhaps unintended, of prenatal screening programmes where termination of pregnancy is an option.
The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign calls on the government to halt the implementation of cfDNA screening and to introduce reforms which would support those with Down’s syndrome and their families. The group adds that cfDNA may only worsen the culture of informally eugenic anti-disabled discrimination that exists in the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme.
Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign said:
“As a mother of a daughter who has Down’s syndrome, I see every day the unique value she brings to our family and the positive impact she has on others around her.
“Figures released earlier this year show that the fears of the Down’s syndrome community that rolling out these tests would lead to a large drop in the number of babies with Down’s syndrome were not unfounded.
“While the screening itself is being heralded as a move to reduce the number of miscarriages associated with invasive amniocentesis, figures published in the Sunday Times last December revealed that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome fell by 30% in NHS hospitals that have already introduced the new test. When this test is rolled out across the country, we can expect to see this situation replicated elsewhere. Such outcomes are likely to have a profoundly negative impact on the Down’s syndrome community.”
“We are calling on the Government to halt the further roll-out of the tests on the NHS immediately and to undertake an urgent inquiry into the impact that these tests are having on birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.”
“There also needs to be greater support for parents who are expecting a child with Down’s syndrome.”
“Despite Nuffield Council of Bioethics’ 2017 call for RCOG to take immediate action and introduce professional guidance to cover the continuation of pregnancy after a diagnosis of fetal anomaly there are still no guidelines to support women who choose to continue their pregnancies after finding that their baby has Down’s syndrome.”
“There is mounting evidence that an unconscious bias exists in the FASP programme. We need the right reforms to turn things around and ensure that the tenets of diversity and inclusivity extend to screening conversations in the NHS.”
For interviews, contact Don’t Screen Us Out spokesperson Lynn Murray on 0784 0966 736 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A 2015 UN report from the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) of the United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) issued a stern warning about the drive to adopt NIPT in national screening programmes, “the potential ethical disadvantages of NIPT can be summarised as routinisation and institutionalisation of the choice of not giving birth to an ill or disabled child”.
The Governmental enabling of such an approach, also violates the UK’s treaty obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to make sure that its health policies – including antenatal screening – are informed by and reflective of a ‘social model’ understanding of disability. As indeed does the haphazard medical support for parents whose child is found to have fetal disability, which leads to pressure on parents to abort their babies with disabilities such as trisomy 21 and causes the conditions that drive the low proportion of Down’s syndrome births. Both constitute a failure to implement article 23 of the CRPD to eliminate discrimination and to provide early and comprehensive support to families with children who have Down syndrome.
The Don’t Screen Us Out campaign calls on the government to halt the implementation of cfDNA screening and to introduce reforms which would support those with Down’s syndrome and their families. cfDNA may only worsen the culture of informally eugenic anti-disabled discrimination that exists in the Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme.
On 19 November 2015 the UK National Screening Committee published recommendations around the introduction of cfDNA as a contingent test within the UK Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme (FASP) for women receiving higher chance results from first line screening for trisomy 13, trisomy 18 and trisomy 21. The recommendations included further evaluative work to better understand what would need to be answered before full implementation, and approach to addressing these issues together with the practical impact to the screening programme if implemented. Also recommended was that the evaluative work should be informed by work on ethics and NIPT by the Nuffield Council of Bioethics. https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/policydb_download.php?doc=1266
Nuffield Council of Bioethics published a 169-page report on NIPT in March 2017. https://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/publications/non-invasive-prenatal-testing
NIPT techniques will shortly allow for the testing of the entire human genome, and the targeting of fetuses for abortion based on a range of illicitly considered characteristics. .https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/generation-genome-and-the-opportunities-for-screening-programmes
BGI Employee telling visitors that prenatal screening is a ‘cash cow’ (courtesy of Al-Jazeera) https://youtu.be/fCEKXY52X1U
Text of a Letter Sent Today To the International Criminal Court in the Hague
Ms Fatou Bensouda
Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
sent by email
6 August 2020
Dear Ms Bensouda,
Re: The Situation in Nigeria
Following a meeting with Mr Phakiso Mochochoko and the team working on the situation in Nigeria last week, and further to our previous correspondence (14 February; 25 June; 23 July) we write to draw your attention to a new report by UK-based Igbo Councillors, which cites evidence of escalating attacks against Christians and Igbo people (one of the three major tribes in Nigeria) in south-eastern states.
One of the helpful and constructive outcomes of our meeting with your colleagues was the suggestion that we continue to send you authenticated information which, while not directly relevant to the specific cases which you are assessing, will be information which you will be able to examine in due course. What follows is certainly illustrative of the culture of impunity which we discussed.
According to the report: “During [the] period of strict lockdown…. [Fulani herders] have migrated in trailer and lorry loads with AK47s and other assorted weapons and ammunitions. They have taken occupation of the farmlands displacing the communities and causing havoc and damaging properties as well as senseless and traumatic killings of the villagers to take occupation of their lands and communities.” As of May 2020, 350 Igbo villages have reportedly been occupied by Fulani herders, as well as by Shuwa Arab mercenaries.
Their findings coincide with the launch of a report by the International Committee On Nigeria (ICON) and International Organization on Peace-building & Social Justice (PSJ), ‘Nigeria’s Silent Slaughter: Genocide in Nigeria and the Implications for the International Community’, which found that, since 2000, Fulani herders have killed 19,000 people (primarily Christian farmers) while Boko Haram have killed 43,000 people (the vast majority of women and children).
There is now a strong body of evidence to demonstrate a severe escalation of attacks by Islamist groups and a failure of the Nigerian courts to bring perpetrators to justice. We ask again, therefore, for an urgent review of the recently-submitted report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief, entitled ‘Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?’ and to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities no longer oppress religious freedom with impunity.
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7499):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria about the prosecution of those responsible for (1) killings of, and (2) violent attacks against, Christians in Nigeria; how many Fulani people have been prosecuted for any such attacks; and what steps they are taking, through UK aid programmes, to assist with (a) upholding the rule of law, (b) the protection of minorities, and (c) supporting affected communities in Nigeria. (HL7499)
Tabled on: 29 July 2020
The UK Government condemns all killings and incidents of violence against innocent Nigerian civilians, including terrorist attacks in North East Nigeria and incidents of intercommunal violence in the Middle-Belt. These attacks have had devastating effects on communities of all faiths, including Christian communities. We continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take action to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice. Prosecutions of those responsible, who come from a range of ethnic and religious backgrounds, is primarily a matter for the Nigerian State.
In the North East of Nigeria, the UK is supporting efforts to tackle the terrorist threat and providing a comprehensive package of security, stabilisation and humanitarian assistance to support communities affected by the conflict. In the Middle Belt, the British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their diplomatic engagement with states affected by intercommunal violence. The UK Government is also providing technical support to the Nigerian Government for the development of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence.
The Prime Minister discussed insecurity in Nigeria with President Buhari at the UK Africa Investment Summit in January. More recently, the Minister for Africa discussed intercommunal violence in Nigeria with President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, on 29 June. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, human rights and upholding the rule of law.
Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2020 at 16:41.
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7425):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the statement by the Rt Rev Abiodun Ogunyemi, the Anglican Bishop of Zaria, on 24 July, that the campaign against Christians in Nigeria is a “genocide”, and (2) the responsibilities of (a) the government of Kaduna State, (b) the government of Nigeria, and (c) the international community, under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide; what plans they have to reassess the causes of the attacks against Christians in Nigeria; and whether any such plans will discount climate change as the major cause of such attacks. (HL7425)
Tabled on: 28 July 2020
We are aware of the statement made by the Right Reverend Abiodun Ogunyemion on 24 July. The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, including the recently reported attacks in Kaduna State referred to in the Bishop’s statement. Intercommunal violence in Kaduna State and Nigeria more widely affects communities of all faiths. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians and human rights for all.
It is UK Government policy not to unilaterally determine whether genocide has occurred, in line with the Genocide Convention. This is a matter for competent courts and tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, after consideration of all the evidence, rather than governments or non-judicial bodies.
The UK Government’s assessment remains that climate change is one of the drivers of intercommunal violence in Nigeria because of the resulting competition for natural resources. The Bishop of Truro also considered the effects of climate change on intercommunal violence in Nigeria in his independent report on the global persecution of Christians.
Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2020 at 16:38.
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7424):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that at least 80 people have been killed in July in southern Kaduna, and (2) that 620 Christians have been killed in the region in the last 18 months; and what they consider to be the major reason for these attacks. (HL7424)
Tabled on: 28 July 2020
The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, including reported attacks in southern Kaduna State. We are concerned by a recent increase in attacks in the state. These attacks have had devastating effects on communities of all faiths, including Christian communities. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians and human rights for all. There are many underlying causes to intercommunal violence in Nigeria, which include disputes over natural resources and competition over land exacerbated by climate change and population growth. Religious identity is also a factor in some incidents of intercommunal violence, but we do not assess it to be the principal driver of the violence.
Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2020 at 16:35.
Baroness Sugg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7423):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the killing of ten people, (2) the injury of others, and (3) the destruction of homes, during an attack by armed assailants on Zikpak, Nigeria, on 24 July; and how (1) UK aid, and (2) diplomatic influence, is being used (a) to protect vulnerable minorities, and (b) to address any escalation in attacks in Nigeria. (HL7423)
Tabled on: 28 July 2020
The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, including a recently reported attack in Zikpak, Kaduna State on 24 July. There are many underlying causes to intercommunal violence in Nigeria, which include disputes over natural resources and competition over land exacerbated by climate change and population growth. The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their diplomatic engagement with states affected by intercommunal violence, including Kaduna state. Officials from the British High Commission are engaging with State Governments, faith and community leaders, peacebuilding organisations, the Federal Government and others. The FCO co-hosted a conference at Wilton Park in February on Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria, which brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the complex causes of intercommunal violence. Discussions helped to form recommendations to tackle intercommunal violence in affected states in Nigeria. The Minister for Africa discussed intercommunal violence with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff in June.
The UK is also providing technical support to the Nigerian Government for the development of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence.
We will continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes and meet the needs of all communities.
Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2020 at 16:34.
Yet, while one arm of the Foreign Office endlessly attributes Nigeria’s killings to climate change and denies that religious ideology is a principal driver of the violence, another arm of the Foreign Office issues this advice to its citizens:
The UK Foreign Office also revealed that “Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.
“As well as in north-east Nigeria, extremist groups operate in some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa.”
Systematic violence against Nigerian Christians by Fulani herdsmen constitutes genocide, according to a leading Catholic bishop who stressed that Muslims are also falling foul of the violence. Following the execution of five aid workers by Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) he believed the recent violence was genocidal in nature.
When asked whether he agreed that that Fulani killings of Christians can be categorised as genocide according to international law, he said: “I believe so”
Lord Alton of Liverpool, UK House of Lords
Prof. Ahmed Shaheed, Essex Law School, UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB
Prof. Mariz Tadros, University of Sussex, IDS, CREID
Please RSVP via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/preview?eid=116035301711/
Maira Shahbaz and b) Maira’s mother, Nighat (second from right), and Maira’s sisters and brother
By John Pontifex ACN News: Tuesday, 4th August 2020 – PAKISTAN
THE campaign to free a 14-year-old Christian girl from the clutches of a man who abducted her and held her hostage in his home in Pakistan lies in tatters after Lahore High Court unexpectedly decided in his favour.
Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi today (Tuesday, 4th August) overturned last week’s ruling of the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court which ordered that Maira Shahbaz be removed from Mohamad Nakash’s house and placed in a women and girl’s refuge, pending further investigations.
Mr Nakash claimed he had married Maira but, in spite of evidence invalidating the marriage certificate and showing that she is underage, Lahore High Court ruled in his favour, stating that the teenager has embraced Islam.
Witnesses said Maira was in tears in the court today and afterwards her clearly distressed mother, Nighat, declined to speak to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity which has been closely following the case.
Family friend and advocate Lala Robin Daniel said: “With this ruling, no Christian girl in Pakistan is safe.”
Lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu, who represented Maira in court, told ACN: “It is unbelievable. What we have seen today is an Islamic judgement.
“The arguments we put forward were very strong and cogent.”
In the courtroom, Mr Tahir Sandhu detailed 11 arguments in support of his client, chief of which involves an official birth certificate showing Maira was only 13 last October, the month of her alleged marriage to Mr Nakash.
Mr Tahir Sandhu also argued that the marriage certificate was faked, citing evidence denouncing the document given by the Muslim cleric whose name appears on the document.
The lawyer also quoted from state law in Pakistan to show that, as Maira is underage, she can only change her religion with her mother’s permission.
Mr Tahir Sadhu said: “I became so upset as the proceedings went on, I feared I might be asked to leave the court room.”
The lawyer said he would appeal the decision, first at Lahore High Court and, if this fails, in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
With pictures of a) Maira Shahbaz and b) Maira’s mother, Nighat (second from right), and Maira’s sisters and brother (© Aid to the Church in Need (ACN))
And, in a second example of Pakistan’s failure to protect its minorities the murderer of Tahir Ahmed – accused of blasphemy- was greeted with hugs and kisses. In a letter,one man who campaigns for his fellow citizens says:
The attached report reflects the true image of the situation of FoRB in Pakistan which has raised many questions on the role of the UK Govt and what has been achieved so far.
DIFD has pumped millions to improve the situation of FoRB in Pakistan – yet we see a murderer who killed a blasphemy accused becomes a hero and yet we see a nationwide campaign to promote murderer and pay him tribute on the social media supported by millions.
We see no response from the Pakistan Govt or any step to crack down the social media campaign to promote a murderer as a hero. The Pakistan Govt didn’t condemn this horrific incident of the killing of a person in front of a Judge on blasphemy charges.
We urge you to kindly take a prompt action to raise this case to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and other authorities.
And, in a third example of failure to protect minorities, campaigners, say that the Lahore High Court Bar Association, has sent a letter to the Minister of Interior in the Punjab, during the festive season of Eid al-Adha about prohibitions on Ahmadi taking part in certain religious activities.
They say that the Lahore High Court Bar Association has urged the Interior Minister to circulate a notice to all district police officers to make arrests if any Ahmadi found performing this religious ritual.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah – Pakistan’s enlightened founding father who insisted that minorities should be given respect and protection in the new country.
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