Pakistani couple remain on death row
AFTER the “joyous news” of the release from prison of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman imprisoned on death row after she was accused of blasphemy (News, 10 May), the British Pakistani Christian Association has highlighted the plight of a Pakistani Christian couple, Shagufta Kousar and Shafqat Masih, who are also imprisoned on death row. The couple were each sentenced to death on 4 April 2014 after they were accused of sending text messages to a Muslim man which were deemed to be blasphemous. The couple have appealed their sentences at district court level, arguing that the witnesses produced by the prosecution during the trial were related to the complainant and therefore biased. Their case has since been taken up by the lawyer who defended Mrs Bibi. Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said that there the couple’s arrests had “sparked a worrying trend of Christians accused for derogatory text messages and social media postings”. He called on the Pakistani government to “abrogate these pernicious [blasphemy] laws forever”.
Cardinal turns on lights for homeless
CARDINAL Konrad Krajewski, a Vatican aide, went down a manhole on Sunday to reactivate the electricity supply for hundreds of homeless people who live in an empty state-owned building. The electricity supply had been suspended by the supplier owing to lack of payment. Cardinal Krajewski said: “I intervened personally to turn the meter back on. It was a gesture of desperation. There were over 400 people without electricity, families and children, The absurd thing is that we are in the heart of Rome. These are families who don’t have anywhere to go, people who struggle to survive.” Italy’s far-Right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, threatened Cardinal Krajewski with bill for the electricity, which amounted to €300,000.