Death Sentence For Blasphemy Against 2 Pakistani Christians Overturned!

The Lahore High Court ruled against a Pakistani Christian couple's blasphemy conviction against Islam back in 2014. Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel are finally expected to be freed after fighting a 7-year-long battle against their death sentence when they shouldn't have been convicted at all.

Pakistan is known to have wildly overbroad and coercive "Blasphemy" laws. Death sentences are common, and vigilante mob lynching without trial is a likelier scenario. According to human rights groups, a lot of times, false blasphemy accusations stem from personal vendetta. Moreover, these cases are often premised on falsifiable evidence in environments that make fair trials impossible.

Emmanuel and Kauser were convicted of allegedly sending blasphemous text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad, in 2014, to a local imam from a phone number registered in the former's name. However, the couple are of a low socioeconomic status, and neither of them is literate enough to send the messages in question.

Saif ul-Malook — the couples’ lawyer who also fought for Aisha Bibi — said that they suggested in the trial that a neighbour they had argued with might have purchased a SIM card in Shagufta's name and sent the messages to frame them. "I am very happy that we were able to get the release of this couple who are some of the most helpless people in our society," he added.



The high court ruling has garnered positive feedback from around the world, but it also highlights Pakistan's weak protection of religious minorities, and several other social issues. "Today's decision puts an end to the seven-year-long ordeal of a couple who should not have been convicted nor faced a death sentence in the first place," Amnesty International's South Asia Deputy Director Dinushika Dissanayake said in a statement.

The European Parliament, in April, condemned Pakistan for failing to protect religious minorities like Ahmadis, Shiites, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc. "The situation in Pakistan continued to deteriorate in 2020 as the government systematically enforced blasphemy laws and failed to protect religious minorities from abuses," the resolution stated. It also highlighted the Emmanuel and Kauser’s case and urged the authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" overturn the death sentence, followed by providing the couple and their lawyer police protection.



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