May 8, 1998 |
Thousands of mourners Thursday demanded repeal of a law that bans blasphemy against Islam, one day after a Roman Catholic bishop killed himself to protest a death sentence against a Christian convicted under the law. Bishop John Joseph, 65, shot himself in the head Wednesday at the courthouse in Punjab province where fellow Catholic Ayub Masih was tried and sentenced to death April 27. "We should not call it suicide," Lahore Archbishop Emmanuel Yousuf Mani said.
May 9, 1998 |
Ayub Masih, a young Pakistani from the village of Sahiwal, was condemned to death under his nation's laws for defaming the Prophet Muhammad. The young man allegedly had praised "The Satanic Verses," the Salman Rushdie novel that many Muslims consider insulting to Islam. The harsh penalty for Masih, a Roman Catholic, for violating Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law might have gone unnoticed, except for a stunning intervention by Bishop John Joseph.