Controversial televangelist in Pakistan dies at 50

One of Pakistan’s most prominent and contentious TV hosts, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, has died aged 50 after being found unconscious at home in Karachi. The anchor was taken to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival. A post mortem exam is being carried out. Aamir Liaquat Hussain switched from televangelism to politics, becoming an MP for Imran Khan’s PTI party. His career was dogged by controversy – he gave babies to childless couples on TV and was banned for hate speech. The outspoken anchor’s personal life was public fodder too, often fuelled by his activities on social media. In the last … Continue reading Controversial televangelist in Pakistan dies at 50

Nigeria mob burns man to death over row with Muslim cleric

Nigerian police say a man who had a row with a Muslim cleric died in the capital, Abuja, after being set ablaze by a mob supporting the cleric. Ahmad Usman, 30, was in a local vigilante group and police say about 200 people were mobilised against him. Eyewitnesses said the row was over an alleged blasphemous remark, but the police have not confirmed this. Last month, a Christian student was killed by Muslim students who accused her of blasphemy in the city of Sokoto. The Abuja victim was described by police as “a member of the local vigilante around Tipper … Continue reading Nigeria mob burns man to death over row with Muslim cleric

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Vatican Secretary of State dead

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican Secretary of State, who has died aged 94, may have been little known in the English-speaking world, but he was for decades one of the most important prelates in the Catholic Church.Cardinal Angelo Sodano His influence and power, though discreet, were pervasive, and all the stronger for being nearly invisible. Every scandal in the Church, and there have been many, either led back to Sodano or had a Sodano component, yet he was never brought to book. Like the fictional Baron Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, “before him all Rome trembled”. Unlike Scarpia, Sodano lived … Continue reading Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Vatican Secretary of State dead

Vatican: Pope names 21 new cardinals

Pope Francis said on Sunday that he will elevate 21 churchmen to the rank of cardinal in a ceremony at the Vatican this summer. Among the churchmen tapped by the pontiff to receive the prestigious red hat will be two prelates from India and one each from Mongolia, Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay, and Brazil, in keeping with Francis’s determination to have church leaders reflect the global face of the Catholic Church. Francis read out his choices at the end of his traditional Sunday greetings to the public in St Peter’s Square. At least 16 of the new cardinals … Continue reading Vatican: Pope names 21 new cardinals

Barbaric: Nigerian student beaten, burned to death over ‘blasphemous’ text messages

A female Nigerian student was beaten to death and set on fire by fellow students who accused her of posting “blasphemous” statements in a student Whatsapp group, two witnesses and police said. The school, located in Nigeria’s northwesternmost state of Sokoto, was immediately closed down following the attack. Two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of the student, who was identified as Deborah Samuel, said a spokesperson for the Sokoto state command. “There is a WhatsApp group being used by the students and her Muslim colleague student posted an Islamic piece. She criticised the posting,” said one of … Continue reading Barbaric: Nigerian student beaten, burned to death over ‘blasphemous’ text messages

Pakistan passes death sentences on six men involved in the killing of Sri Lankan man

Six men have been sentenced to death over the mob killing of a Sri Lankan man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. Priyantha Diyawadanage, 48, a factory manager in the city of Sialkot, was beaten to death and his body set alight last December. Of 88 people convicted, nine were given life sentences and the others jail terms of two to five years. The case shocked the country and was described as “a day of shame” by the then Prime Minister Imran Khan. Videos of the lynching on social media showed scenes of the incensed crowd dragging Mr Diyawadanage from his … Continue reading Pakistan passes death sentences on six men involved in the killing of Sri Lankan man

Nigerian atheist jailed for 24 years for blasphemy

A Nigerian atheist has been sentenced to 24 years in prison by a high court in the northern state of Kano after being convicted of blaspheming Islam.Mubarak Bala Mubarak Bala, the 37-year-old president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, pleaded guilty to all 18 charges and asked for leniency. He has been in detention since 2020. A group of Muslims had filed a petition to the authorities accusing Bala of posting uncomplimentary messages about Islam on social media. Kano has a majority Muslim population. It is one of around a dozen states in northern Nigeria where Islamic law is practised … Continue reading Nigerian atheist jailed for 24 years for blasphemy

Insanity: Teacher at Pakistan school killed for ‘blasphemy’: police

A teacher at an all-girls religious school was killed by a woman colleague and two students who accused her of blasphemy, Pakistan police said Wednesday, the latest murder in the country related to the hugely sensitive issue. Few issues in Pakistan are as galvanising as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests and incite lynchings. The latest incident took place Tuesday in Dera Ismail Khan in the country’s ultra-conservative northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan. Police said two students and a teacher ambushed Safoora Bibi at the main gate of the school … Continue reading Insanity: Teacher at Pakistan school killed for ‘blasphemy’: police

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi freed after decade in prison

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi – jailed and sentenced to 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam online” – has been freed, his wife says. “Raif called me. He is free,” Ensaf Haidar told AFP news agency from Canada, where she fled with the couple’s three children. Mr Badawi’s son Terad also tweeted: “My father is free.” The blogger’s first 50 lashes caused a global outcry and he became an emblem of rights abuses in the country. His sentence ended on 1 March. However, he is subject to a 10-year-travel ban and it is unclear whether he will face other restrictions. The NGO … Continue reading Saudi blogger Raif Badawi freed after decade in prison

Priest resigns after Catholic church voids thousands of his baptisms over 1-word mistake

“I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere,” said Andres Arango, who resigned from the Diocese of Phoenix An Arizona priest resigned this month after the Diocese of Phoenix concluded that his mix-up of a single word during the baptisms he performed over his career made them all invalid. In a letter posted to their website, the Diocese of Phoenix announced that Rev. Andres Arango had mistakenly used an incorrect word in each Rite of Baptism he performed until the error was noticed in June of last year. Instead of saying, “I baptize … Continue reading Priest resigns after Catholic church voids thousands of his baptisms over 1-word mistake

Murder In God’s Name: Man accused of blasphemy killed by mob in Pakistan

A mob has killed a man for allegedly burning pages of the Koran in central Pakistan, police say, in the latest case of blasphemy-related violence in the country. Police say more than 80 people have been arrested in connection with the killing on Saturday in the district of Khanewal in Punjab province. Reports said the man was in police custody before a crowd snatched him. His body was handed over to his family and a funeral held on Sunday. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the case would be “dealt with the full severity of the law” and asked for … Continue reading Murder In God’s Name: Man accused of blasphemy killed by mob in Pakistan

Italian ex-priest jailed for extortion

An Italian former priest, known as “Don Euro” for his constant requests for money from his parishioners, has been jailed for extorting a former bishop. Luca Morini, who lost his status as a priest after a series of scandals, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday. He was also convicted of impersonation, after assuming the identity of a judge while hiring male sex workers. He was cleared of other charges including extorting a nun. Morini was the priest of Pontasserchio, a Tuscan town of 2,600 people just north of Pisa. At first he was thought to be good-natured, … Continue reading Italian ex-priest jailed for extortion