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October 1st, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Explainer: Pakistan's blasphemy laws

By Reza Sayah, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - It has been more than a month since a teenage Christian girl was charged in Pakistan under the country's blasphemy laws . Her accusers say she burned pages from the Quran, Islam's holy book. Amid twists in her case, including changed statements by witnesses, she is facing life in prison.

On Monday, CNN reported that three witnesses whose testimony could absolve the 14-year-old Rimsha Masih have changed their statements, a potential setback for her. She has denied the charges.

The case has drawn the country's complex laws about blasphemy into the spotlight. Here is a primer on those laws.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

Pakistani court postpones decision on teen accused of blasphemy
Rimsha Masih sits in a helicopter after her release from jail in Rawalpindi on September 8, 2012.
October 1st, 2012
04:52 AM ET

Pakistani court postpones decision on teen accused of blasphemy

From Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - A Christian girl accused of violating Pakistani blasphemy laws by allegedly burning pages containing texts from the Quran will have to wait at least another two weeks to learn her fate after a court ordered a stay of proceedings in her case Monday.

A juvenile court had been due Monday to hear the case of the girl, Rimsha Masih. But the Islamabad High Court said the hearing should wait until it has ruled on a petition by Rimsha's lawyers seeking a dismissal, one of the lawyers said.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Pakistan • Quran

Priest embroiled in ivory smuggling controversy
September 27th, 2012
05:14 AM ET

Priest embroiled in ivory smuggling controversy

By Madison Park, CNN

(CNN) - A priest known for his collection of religious art is under investigation for possible involvement in the illegal ivory trade, according to a Philippine law enforcement agency.

Monsignor Critobal Garcia was quoted in the October issue of National Geographic directing a reporter to ivory carvers and traders, and also dispensing advice on how to smuggle the banned item into the United States.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Philippines

Police: Pakistani teen innocent of blasphemy, but case continues
Rimsha Masih in a helicopter after her release from jail in Rawalpindi on September 8.
September 25th, 2012
04:27 AM ET

Police: Pakistani teen innocent of blasphemy, but case continues

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - A 14-year-old Pakistani girl who had faced life in prison for allegedly burning the Quran will have her case heard in juvenile court, the girl's lawyer told CNN.

A local court ordered the transfer on Monday, Tahir Naveed Choudhry said.

Pakistani police told CNN their investigation concluded Rimsha Masih is innocent and was framed by an imam.

"There was no legal evidence against Rimsha," officer Munir Jafri told CNN.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Islam • Pakistan • Quran

September 10th, 2012
10:16 AM ET

My Take: The Mother Teresa you don’t know

Editor's note: David Van Biema, the chief religion writer at Time Magazine for ten years, is author of the illustrated biography "Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint," now being reissued and made available in Spanish as "La Madre Teresa: La Vida y las obras de una santa moderna."

By David Van Biema, Special to CNN

Fifteen years may be less than an instant in celestial time, but here on earth it's a lot of news cycles.

Mother Teresa departed this Earth on September 5, 1997. What more can we say about the woman who became synonymous with love for the "poorest of the poor," picking up a Nobel and tweaking the conscience of millions? What do we know about her now that we didn't know then?

A lot, it turns out.

Here's a quick Blessed Mother Teresa primer, emphasizing the stuff that you probably don’t know, some of which we only learned recently.

1. She was born a rich girl.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • India • Leaders • Opinion

September 7th, 2012
05:39 AM ET

Judge in Pakistan grants bail to Christian girl accused of blasphemy

By Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - A Pakistani judge on Friday granted bail to Rimsha, a 14-year-old Christian girl detained over accusations she burned pages of the Quran in a case that has heightened religious tensions in the volatile country.

The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, which represents religious minorities in the country, will pay the sum of roughly $10,000 to secure Rimsha's release from jail, said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of her lawyers and a leading member of the alliance.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Pakistan • Quran

September 3rd, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Pakistani police: Muslim cleric framed girl in Pakistan blasphemy case

From Nasir Habib, CNN

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - Pakistani police say a Muslim cleric planted evidence to link a Christian girl to blasphemy - a new twist in a case that has fanned flames of religious tension in the country and attracted worldwide interest.

The imam, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, will himself face blasphemy charges for tearing pages out of a Quran to use as evidence against the girl, Islambad police chief Bin Yamin said.

The latest development may make it easier for the girl, 14-year-old Rimsha, to be released on bail at her next court hearing.

Police arrested Rimsha last month after a neighbor accused her of burning pages containing texts from the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

Read the full story on the Pakistani blasphemy case
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Pakistan

August 20th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Girl held on Pakistan blasphemy charge

By Katie Hunt and Nasir Habib, CNN

(CNN) - An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested and detained on charges of blasphemy for allegedly desecrating pages from the Quran in the Pakistan capital Islamabad.

According to a statement released by the President's office on Sunday, the girl, identified as Ramsha, was accused by a local resident of burning pages of the Muslim holy text after she gathered paper as fuel for cooking.

Local media reports said the girl has Down syndrome. CNN was unable to confirm these reports, however Qasim Niazi, the police officer in charge of the police station near where the incident took place, said the girl did not have a mental disorder but was illiterate and had not attended school.

The accused girl had told him she had no idea there were pages of the Quran inside the documents she burnt, he added.

Niazi said that 150 people had gathered on Friday where the neighborhood's Christian population lived and threatened to burn down their houses.

"The mob wanted to burn the girl to give her a lesson," he told CNN.

Other Christian families living in the area have fled fearing a backlash, he added.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Islamic law • Pakistan • Quran

Spokesman: Unification Church founder hospitalized with pneumonia
Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, is shown here on July 22. He is now in intensive care, a spokesman says.
August 16th, 2012
08:14 AM ET

Spokesman: Unification Church founder hospitalized with pneumonia

By K.J. Kwon, CNN

Seoul (CNN) -
The founder of the Unification Church is unconscious and undergoing treatment for pneumonia at a hospital in South Korea, a spokesman said Thursday.

Doctors put the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 92, in intensive care Tuesday, where he is breathing through a respirator, the church spokesman said.

Moon felt ill suddenly and was hospitalized in Seoul in "grave condition." His doctor has given him only a 50% chance of survival, spokesman Ahn Ho-yeol said.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: South Korea • Unification Church

My Take: Dalai Lama should condemn Tibetan self-immolations
Tibetans at a protest in Taipei in 2011 display portraits of people who killed themselves by self-immolation.
July 12th, 2012
09:28 AM ET

My Take: Dalai Lama should condemn Tibetan self-immolations

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

When the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc immolated himself in Saigon in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem, the world took notice. Malcolm Browne’s photograph of the monk becoming a martyr won the Pulitzer Prize, and Diem's Roman Catholic regime fell before the year’s end.

Today, Tibet is witnessing an epidemic of self-immolations. In fact, since March 16, 2011, more than 40 Tibetans have followed Thich Quang Duc’s lead, setting themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Westerners react with revulsion to sati, the Hindu practice of widow-burning outlawed by the British in 1829, and of course to Islamist suicide bombers. The New Atheists are right to protest all this killing in the name of God (or the Buddha) - the way believers both prompt violence and justify it in the name of some higher good.

So where are the protests against these Tibetan protesters?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Asia • Buddhism • China • Dalai Lama • Death • Ethics • Opinion • Politics • Protest • Tibet • Tibet • Violence

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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