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PAKISTAN: BLASPHEMY AND MURDER
- the battle for Pakistan continues.
by Elizabeth Kendal
|'Free at Last'.|
Asia Bibi with Anne-Isabelle Tollet
On 8 April 2020, six years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy by the Lahore High Court, Shafqat Emmanuel Masih and his wife, Shagufta Kausar, of Gojra, Punjab, will have their appeal heard by the Lahore Court of Appeal. The Christian couple, who have four children, were imprisoned for blasphemy in 2013 and sentenced to death in 2014. They stand accused of sending English language blasphemous texts to an Islamic cleric. Shafqat - who is paralysed from the waist down - was tortured during interrogations yet only 'confessed' after authorities threatened to torture his wife. Under extreme pressure from Islamists, the court deemed the couple guilty, despite both being illiterate. Their health has deteriorated markedly whilst in prison [RLPB 512 (24 July 2019)].
|Shafqat and Shagufta.|
Sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, the source of the problem remains! Pakistan has undergone immense Saudi-sponsored radicalisation since 1979, the fruit of which is extreme intolerance which expresses itself in violent persecution of all religious minorities. Today it is common for Pakistan's madrassa-educated fundamentalist Sunni Muslims to view their Christian neighbours as kafir (infidels), dhimmis (subjugated infidels) and najis (unclean). Asia Bibi's problems all started when she fetched water for her co-workers, who then refused to drink water 'polluted' by an unclean infidel. On 28 February Christian farm labourer Saleem Masih (22) died in Lahore's General Hospital from injuries sustained during a savage beating and torture session instigated by the Muslim proprietor. On 25 February, after Saleem finished his tasks, he rinsed himself off in the proprietor's tube well. [A tube well (image) taps into underground water which is then used to irrigate crops and water livestock; children play in it, men cool off in it ... but apparently Christians, being najis, can only pollute it.]
|Saleem Masih, |
hospitalised on 25 Feb.
He died three days later.
photo: MSN courtesy
Pakistan Center for Law and Justice
PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR ALMIGHTY GOD WILL
* intervene to secure justice and liberty for Shafqat Emmanuel Masih and his wife Shagufta; may the Lord bless, guide and protect their lawyers - in particular, Khalil Tahir Sandhu - and prepare the court bench to issue a right judgement.
* comfort the family of murdered Christian Saleem Masih (22); may justice be secured and all suffering redeemed; may all the family's needs be supplied.
* sustain, bless and continue to grow Pakistani's vulnerable and persecuted Christian Church that she may be a blessing to that nation (Genesis 12:3).
* have mercy on Pakistan (Jonah 4:11)! May the Spirit of God awaken Pakistanis to the shame and disgrace of injustice and intolerance and embolden them to pursue justice, equity, peace and dignity. May the sovereign Lord raise up lawyers, writers, teachers, politicians and other community leaders and activists who will lead Pakistan to a better path. We pray especially for Prime Minister Imran Khan, who desires reform and has imprisoned dozens of radical Islamist leaders and agitators; may the Lord grant him courage, determination and success in the face of overwhelming opposition.
'…let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream' (Amos 5:24 ESV).
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
'BLASPHEMY' AND MURDER IN PAKISTAN
Twenty-five Christians are in prison for blasphemy, six with death sentences. They include Shafqat and his wife, Shagufta. On 8 April the Christian couple will have their appeal heard by the Lahore Court of Appeal. Sentenced to death in 2014, the court found them guilty of sending blasphemous texts to an Islamic cleric, even though their 'confession' was extracted under torture and both are illiterate. Catholic lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sandhu, will present the appeal. On 28 February Christian farm labourer, Saleem Masih (22), died in Lahore's General Hospital after being beaten and tortured by Muslims who accused the 'filthy Christian' of 'polluting' a well. Outraged Pakistanis have been using the hashtag #JusticeForSaleemMasih to speak out against the incident and protest the abuse of Pakistan's religious minorities. Please pray.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).