Displaying items by tag: Pakistan
Raja Waris, a 25-year-old Christian lay reader, is in police custody in Lahore after he shared another person’s post critical of Islam on his Facebook page. Raja apologised to the Muslims in person, saying he had shared the post for academic understanding between Christians and Muslims and did not mean to offend any Muslims, and the issue appeared to be resolved. But then a huge mob gathered demanding his beheading. Fearing violence, hundreds of Christian residents fled their homes while around 400 anti-riot policemen were deployed to the area to thwart violence. When local church elders were taken to the police station, a large mob gathered outside, chanting slogans against Christians. Negotiations failed, and Raja was hiding due to threats to his life. Mob leaders only called off the siege after he was held under blasphemy laws that call for up to ten years in prison. He and his family are currently in a safe house for their security.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are common and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Imran was falsely accused of blasphemy and imprisoned for life. On 15 December the Lahore High Court acquitted him and released him, after he had spent over ten years in prison. The development came as a shock to Imran’s family. ‘It is a day of resurrection for us’, Naveed Masih, Imran’s brother, said. ‘God has heard our cry and we are very thankful to Him. It’s a Christmas gift for us.’
On 2 November Karachi police recovered a 13-year-old Christian girl and arrested the Muslim accused of abducting and forcibly marrying and converting her. The action came after a rising tide of protests over the previous validation of the marriage. The girl, Arzoo Raja, was due to appear on 5 November at a court hearing which will hear evidence about Arzoo’s age (her parents have provided proof that she was born in 2007) and decide whether she was forcibly converted and if her marriage is legal.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests. Recently the wife and family of Asif Pervaiz went into hiding after Pervaiz was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. Pervaiz was handed the death sentence on 8 September, nearly seven years after his arrest. ‘She is in hiding because she feels threatened,’ said Release International, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians. For the sad story of the family’s ordeal, click the ‘More’ button.
A Christian brother asks us to pray for Pakistan, where this crisis will play out very differently. Prime minister Imran Khan said he won't be able to lock down cities fully because of the poverty. Citizens simply have to go to work each day to feed their families. Also, crowded living conditions and limited healthcare facilities will mean the virus spreads rapidly, causing enormous loss of life - many times greater than we will see in the West. However, in the middle of this awful pandemic, we may have the greatest opportunity and responsibility that the Church has ever had to share God’s love with the people of Pakistan. People who are angry, frightened, grieving and in despair have questions about life and death, why God let this happen, why prayers were not answered. This is potentially a time for the gospel like no other in history.
She was picking fruit on a sweltering summer’s day in June 2009 with Muslim women when a dispute arose over a shared cup of water because the Muslim women would not drink from a cup that they considered ‘unclean’ as it had been used by a Christian. This culminated in Aasia Bibi being accused of insulting Muhammad. ‘My husband was at work, my kids were in school’, she recalled. ‘A mob came and dragged me away. They made fun of me.’ ‘I am not angry at all, I’ve forgiven everyone from my heart and there is no hardness in me. I learned how to be patient after having to leave my children behind.’ These are the gracious words of Aasia Bibi, the Christian mother-of-five who spent nearly eight years on death row in Pakistan, falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’.
For the first time since 1890 the full Pakistani Pashto Bible will be printed. The translation is in the major Yousafzai dialect of Pashto. Up to now missionaries and evangelists and the underground Pakhtun speaking Church only had a version of the New Testament in a mix of Pakistani and Afghan Pashto. This version, aimed at Pakhtuns living outside Pakistan, will be printed in Europe. It is hoped that the Bibles will be ready to transport to mission agencies in spring 2020. For security reasons, the name of the translating organisation is not available.
In a rare move, police stepped in to stop Muslims attacking Amir Masih, a Christian sanitation worker, after he was falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’. The charges were dropped immediately after police investigations found that the pages of the Quran which he had in his possession were found in a rubbish bag he collected from local homes as part of his duties. Amir took the pages to a Muslim-owned shop to confirm whether they were from the Quran, but was accused by the shop owner of being an ‘unclean rubbish collector’ and dragged to the local mosque. The imam made a loudspeaker announcement that ‘a blasphemous Christian had been stopped’, calling on other imams to punish him and burn local Christian homes. But police stepped in and saved him from harm and possible life imprisonment.
Christians in the world’s 6th largest nation make up just 2.5% of the population. Many are poor and experience discrimination because of their faith. The struggle to survive is silencing the voices and eroding the faith of many young people. But also there are remarkable leaders emerging in the Church - strong in the Lord, intellectually bright, culturally aware. PAK7 is a new approach to strengthen and support the Church in Pakistan and her witness for Christ to 200 million countrymen, many of whom know nothing about Jesus. It empowers young Pakistani Christians in the use of media so that they have strong faith, confident voices, and a platform to explain who they are, what the Bible means to them, and the difference Jesus makes in their lives. Click the ‘More’ button to watch a short video about PAK7’s work.
Here are a few of the many incidents of Christmas attacks on Christians in 2018. Two days before Egypt’s Christian celebrations, a specialist in mine clearance died defusing a bomb hidden next to a church in Cairo. On 24 December a Methodist church in Bury offering night shelter to homeless refugees was attacked by arsonists who also stole their laptop and projector equipment. In Indonesia over 90,000 police and soldiers helped guard 50,000 churches across the country, including those previously attacked by terrorists. In India on 23 December a mob attacked forty people worshipping at a church in Kowad, injuring ten people. Militants increase their attacks on Nigerian churches at this time, and in Pakistan a planned attack was foiled in Karachi. See