LAHORE, Pakistan – A Christian couple in Punjab Province incapable of writing proper Urdu was sentenced to death today (April 4) for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, bringing the number of Christians on death row in Pakistan to four.
In a country reeling from increasing religious intolerance, the death knell for Shafqat Emmanuel and Shugufta Emmanuel sounded eight days after a court in Lahore sentenced another Christian, Sawan Masih, to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, during a drunken conversation with a Muslim friend. That made Masih the second Christian in Pakistan now on death row after a judge sentenced Christian mother Asia Bibi to death for alleged blasphemy in November 2010.
A court in Toba Tek Singh heard the case against Shafqat Emmanuel, 43, and his wife, a cleaner at a local missionary school and mother to four young children. They were accused of sending blasphemous text messages on June 18, 2013, to complainants Muhammad Hussain and Gojra Tehsil Bar Association President Anwar Mansoor Goraya from a number allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name.