Last year we at Rescue Christians became aware of the case of Nadeem James, a Christian man who was arrested over false accusations he sent a ‘blasphemous text message.’ The problem is that James is illiterate- there is no way he could have sent a text message because he cannot read or write to being with. According to the latest development in the story, the court falsely pronounced him guilty and has sentenced him to die by hanging:
A Pakistani court has sentenced a Christian man to death after he was accused of texting a blasphemous poem to a Muslim friend through WhatsApp.
Nadeem James, who was arrested during the summer of 2016 and charged with the capital crime of insulting the Muslim prophet after a Muslim friend named Yasir Bashir complained to the police about an alleged message received through the mobile app, was officially sentenced to capital punishment last Thursday, according to his defense attorney.
James was charged under section 295-C of the Pakistani criminal code, which calls for those who insult Muhammad to be punished with death or life imprisonment.
“James was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” James’ attorney, Anjum Wakeel, told AFP.
The lawyer added that James’ trial was held inside of prison because local Muslim clerics had threatened James and his family.
Wakeel vowed that James, who maintains that he was falsely accused of the crime because he married a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity, will appeal the sentence to the nation’s high court. Wakeel asserted that his client “has been framed.”
Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the London-based humanitarian charity British Asian Christian Association, told The Christian Post on Monday that under Pakistani law, those who have been sentenced to death for blasphemy must wait at least five years before they can appeal.
“The frightening aspect of this case is that despite the safety of a trial in prison, a district magistrate has ruled that Nadeem, an obviously innocent man, is guilty. This provides little confidence that Nadeem can ever see justice in Pakistan and we all know what that sadly means,” Chowdhry said in a statement. “Nadeem James was an innocent man who fell in love with a local woman. After he married her, all he wanted was to settle down and have children, then to provide for them — all perfectly acceptable goals.”
James joins the likes of Christian mother Asia Bibi, who was also sentenced to death by hanging for alleged blasphemy in 2010 and recently nominated to receive the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov Prize.
“It’s become a palpable reality that [James] could be hanged, but it doesn’t [give much hope] to Asia Bibi either,” Chowdhry stated.
Bibi has been sitting in Pakistani prison for years. Although she requested an appeal last year, her appeal hearings have continued to be delayed by the nation’s Supreme Court.
“I don’t believe a Supreme Court judge is going to exonerate Asia Bibi,” Chowdhry told CP. “Any judge that would be brave enough to do that — it should be a responsibility of every judge — would in essence be facing his own death sentence in Pakistan because of the sheer intolerance and hatred towards minorities.”
“Her solicitor was calling for a hearing in April and it was rejected by the courts. Asia Bibi is sick. She is ill. She is coughing blood in prison. She is in a dingy cell and she is losing her sanity,” he continued.
“It may well be that courts are simply delaying things so that they don’t have to face the consequences in their country for exonerating Bibi, which would mean riots in every state, or they condemn Asia Bibi to death and face international scrutiny and animosity from the whole of the West who are watching with anticipation for her freedom.”
Pakistan ranks as the fourth worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.
One contributing factor to that ranking is the abuse of the country’s blasphemy laws by some Muslims looking to settle personal scores with religious minorities.
“Until this draconion law is removed from Pakistan, no Christian can feel safe. It is not abuse of the law that is the problem — it is the law itself,” Chowdhry said in a statement. “No man-made law is ever required to protect God. As Christians, we believe He is omnipotent. However, this seems a theological concept too difficult to decipher for Muslims in Pakistan, who continue to espouse blasphemy laws despite no basis in quranic scriptures.” (source)
As we wrote last year, taking from our full account of the story written by Rescue Christians director Keith Davies:
Immediately after the incident was reported in the local media and at the local mosques, the fundamentalist Muslims gathered in the Christian colony known as Father’s Colony to intimidate the Christian community. Father’s Colony has about 50 Christian families living in the village; most of them fled, taking refuge with relatives in nearby villages. Local police tried to protect the Christian community from the Muslim lunatics who desired to burn down the Christian houses like they have done in the past in Badami Bagh and Gojra City.
When the blasphemy charges were instigated against Nadeem all the Christian NGOs only wished to report on the case, however none of them were willing to try and save the man from his fate. Only our team made the effort to save him from jail and torture. It is difficult but not impossible to save victims like these but Rescue Christians is the only organization to have been successful in the past. We have saved Ryan Stanton, Martha Bibi, Tariq Yousaf and many others that were in this dangerous situation. We believe in action and not just words.
One of our connections contacted our team leader and informed him that he had access to the Nadeem James and if our team would like to handle the case to try and save him from the clutches of the Pakistani “injustice system,” we agreed. Immediately after we approved the operation our team started making the relocation plan to get him out of Pakistan.
Meanwhile the Pakistani police intimidated the family of Nadeem James and they arrested both sisters-in-law of Nadeem. They were threatened with prosecution if they did not give up their brother. They were released the next day, they were not named in the FIR. We had already prepared a legal appeal against the forced dentation of the woman which turned out not to be necessary. The intimidation of the women worked and caused major issues for Nadeem and our team.
On the 12th of July as our team was finalizing the whole plan the brothers of Nadeem James and a pastor involved in the case contacted our people on the ground and forced them to return the Nadeem as they wished them to hand him over to the police. Initially we resisted but it was apparent that our people would be compromised and they themselves would become the hunted. We were shocked that Nadeem James own kin were willing to betray their own flesh and blood. The Blasphemy charge of 295 C, is the most serious of all blasphemy charges and carries the death sentence and is very difficult to get an acquittal.
We now have also established a serious problem for our organization as we had received information that the police were secretly observing the activity of our team regarding this case. Our lawyer in Pakistan was threatened with arrest for harboring a fugitive and now all our rescue team personel were in imminent danger. The betrayal of Nadeem by his own family also now seriously compromised our people. (source)
We at Rescue Christians do not take pride is saying that we were the only organization who actually tried to help him, not just report on his story. We say this to highlight the fact that there is a real problem with much of the organizations that promise to help Christians in Muslim nations. Many simply want to report on cases of persecution, do activism/lobbying, and maybe distribute some bibles. Rescue Christians is actually on the ground, with real people, helping out in real-life situations like that of Nadeem James.
The reason we do this is because our faith is as much spoken with our mouths as it is lived by our actions. It is easy to bemoan the problems of the world and talk about how they need to be fixed over catered dinners in expensive conference hall. It is a lot harder to go into the places where the persecution is actually taking place and help the people where they need to be helped.
It is also the reason why at Shoebat.com, we speak about other evils in addition to Islam, such as homosexuality and eugenics, because they are equally terrible and also necessary of discussion. Evil is evil in God’s eyes, and if we are even going to try to do our small part in the fight against it, we need to discuss all major evils of the day, not just those of our preference.
As always, please continue to pray and make sacrifices for our Christian brothers who are suffering throughout the work. Likewise, please consider helping aid our efforts at Rescue Christians for those like Mr. James.