A Christian couple in Pakistan have become the latest to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, after they were accused of sending a text message deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, from the eastern town of Gojra, were sentenced after what the couple’s lawyer said was a case motivated by a personal grudge.
Maulvi Mohammed Hussain, a Muslim leader from a mosque in Gojra, lodged the complaint last year, claiming that Mr Emmanuel had used his wife’s mobile phone to send the offending message. Nadeem Hassan, the couple’s lawyer, said that the couple denied the offence and that the text message originated from a mobile phone that had been lost beforehand.
Mr Hassan said a “bogus SIM card” was presented as evidence. “The complainant was involved in a dispute with the pair and had made a threat with the full knowledge that they would face the death penalty,” he said. An appeal against the sentencing will be presented to the High Court in Lahore today.
Gojra, in Punjab province, has been the scene of religious strife in the past. In 2009 a mob attacked a Christian neighbourhood there, killing seven people and destroying dozens of houses after rumours emerged that a copy of the Koran had been desecrated.
via Christians in Pakistan sentenced to death over a text – Telegraph.
A new system of “Sharia-compliant” student loans is to be launched to allow more Muslim students to go to university, it has been announced.
David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said an alternative financial model was being created to satisfy Islamic law that forbids Muslims taking out loans that make interest.
Under the system, students would apply for taxpayer-backed loans but repay them into a mutual-style fund that would be ring-fenced to provide future finance to other students with the same religious beliefs.
The move will raise concerns over a two-tier system in which Muslim students pay less than other undergraduates.
But the Government insisted it would be set up in a way that ensured repayments were made at the same rate as students who take out traditional student loans.
It comes just weeks after it emerged that Sharia law was to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under new guidelines for solicitors for Islamic wills.
Around 115,000 Muslim students currently attend universities in the UK but it is claimed that many have been put off a degree by the Coalition’s new loans system – introduced in 2012 – that carry a real rate of interest above inflation. It coincided with a near tripling of the cap on tuition fees to almost £9,000.
Omar Ali, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, told the Telegraph: “We know of many students who finished college but decided not to go to university because of the way the new system was set up. We welcome this proposal.”
via Plan for ‘Sharia-compliant’ student loans to get more Muslims into university – Telegraph.