Category Archives: Pakistan

Asia Bibi: Pakistan

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UPDATE  October 14, 2016
The Supreme Court of Pakistan was scheduled to hear Asia’s case yesterday, October 13, 2016.  However the hearing was delayed when one of the judges recused himself due to, it appears, a conflict of interest.  Hundreds were gathered to protest if she was released. They did not set a new trial date.


UPDATE  January 19, 2016
Asia Bibi, mother of five who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan under the blasphemy law, says she has forgiven her captors.  She was recently quoted as saying

Christmas is the celebration of God’s mercy. I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness. . . . Jesus made this happy day for me and has accepted my prayers. . . . But, although I have been in prison for seven years, I do not hate those who did me wrong. . . . I pray that Jesus Christ will grant peace to the whole world.

Please continue to pray for her as she awaits her final appeal to the Supreme Court of Iran.

Source:  ACLJ


UPDATE  August 1, 2015
Last month Asia’s case was accepted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.  They agreed to hear her appeal, but a date has not been set yet.  They have temporarily suspended her death sentence pending appeal.  Please pray as this process moves forward.  They will be looking at failures in due process, such as the original court failed to allow Asia to present her story, and the original report was submitted a week after the alleged incident.  The court reversed a previous sentence because the original report was made 48 hours after the event.  According to Pakistani law, it is supposed to be registered immediately.

Source:  ACLJ

Militants have placed a bounty on Asia’s head, and threaten to kill her if the court doesn’t.

Source:  Rach’s Thoughts


UPDATE December 2, 2014
A legal situation in Pakistan has arisen that may have an impact on Asia’s case.  In October, her appeal was denied.  According to Open Doors:

“The appeals judges now explain they had no choice because of the way Pakistan’s laws are written, and they have turned to lawmakers to create legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve.  No such test was in place when Noreen was tried.

The High Court’s legal reasoning and proposed legislation intended to close the loophole through which it says Noreen has fallen, was not available on October 16. In Pakistan, blasphemy against Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, is a crime punishable by death, though a death sentence for blasphemy has never been carried out.

That glitch, Saqi said, involves a legal principle found in Islamic law called tazkiya al shuhood, which requires accusers to meet strict standards of Islamic piety. This precedent came into play when Noreen’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, embarked on an unconventional legal strategy, attempting to subject his Christian client to Islamic law rather than Pakistan’s secular laws.”

Please continue to pray for Asia (also known as Noreen) as well as the courts and government of Pakistan.

Source:  Open Doors


UPDATE November 3, 2014
Nearly 2,000 Islamic clerics gathered outside of Asia’s court hearing on October 16 in an attempt to pressure the judges against overturning her verdict.  A bounty has been placed on her head of a half million rupees (about $5,000).  Two government officials have been assassinated after speaking up on her behalf.  Her attorneys plan to file another appeal with the Supreme Court, but it will likely result in more years of waiting.  She was originally incarcerated in 2009 and is currently on death row, along with 16 other Christians convicted of “blasphemy.”


UPDATE  October 22, 2014
You can sign a petition requesting that Pakistan free Asia.

Read Asia’s description of the event here.  She has been sentenced to hanging for “speaking against the Prophet” by the Pakistani courts.


UPDATE October 16, 2014
Asia Bibi lost her appeal when a Pakistani court decided today to uphold the death penalty for making “derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.”  She is the first woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.  Her lawyers plan to take the case to the Supreme Court.  She has been in prison since 2010.

You can read her story in the book Blasphemy.

Please pray for her and her family!

Sources:  BBC News Asia
Reuters

Father, I’m so disappointed in the outcome of this hearing.  We’ve been waiting such a long time and to have the ruling upheld is crushing.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for Asia and her family.  I ask You to pour out Your presence on each of them.  Encourage them, strengthen them, strongly support each of them, and provide for all their needs.  I pray for Asia as she looks ahead to hundreds of more days in prison.  I ask You to raise up advocates for her from within Pakistan as well as the international community.  Protect those who defend her, as we know of two public officials who have already been assassinated for speaking on her behalf.  I pray for the people of Pakistan, Father.  Give them wisdom, courage, and lead them in the way they should go.  Pour out Your love and mercy upon this country, and let Your kingdom come to that beautiful land that You love.


UPDATE  October 16, 2014
Asia’s court hearing set for September 9, 2014, was postponed, making it the fifth postponement.  The request came from her husband, Ashiq Masih.  He asked for the delay because his personal attorney was not there, although Asia’s lawyers were present.  A new hearing was set for today, October 16, 2014.  The judge said this is the final hearing date and no more delays would be permitted.  Please pray for her immediate release.


UPDATE June 23, 2014
asias-family-prayingAsia’s appeal has been delayed for the fifth time, and her hearing has been delayed for the fourth time.  She remains in prison, in solitary confinement “for her own good,” and is given raw materials to cook her own food so she “won’t be poisoned.”  Please continue to pray for Asia as she is in frail health.

Sources:  Open Doors
Wikipedia


July 3, 2013
Asia was moved to a prison 5 hours away from her home on June 6, 2013.  She has been very sick and in a lot of pain.  Her husband has been a big source of encouragement for her, and now he will not be able to visit her as frequently due to the large distance he must travel.  Please continue to pray for strength, endurance, and the presence of the Lord in her captivity.

Father,  Asia has been in prison for over 4 years now.  She has 5 children who need her desperately.  You have heard their prayers.  You have seen their troubles.  Please work in the hearts of her captors, and through Pakistan’s legal system, and secure her release.  Remember her young daughters.  Remember her special needs daughter.  Be a mother to them in her absence, but please Lord, secure her release.  Encourage her with the strength of Your presence.  Support her with Your joy.  Be all in all of her, Lord, so that she might bear with patience the gross injustice that is done to her.  In a new prison she no longer has the support of jailers that care for her.  Develop new friendships for her in her new place.  Show her the joy that is coming to her so that, just as Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before him, she also may endure her imprisonment because of the joy that is set before her.  Strengthen her family.  Thank you for her strongly supportive husband, Father.  Fill him with your peace, and give him the faith he needs to move any mountain in his path.  Bring him all the support he needs to run this race with endurance.  We are nothing without You.  Be everything to Asia and her family, and bring them through this wilderness triumphantly.  Do this for the glory of Your name.  Amen


blasphemyJanuary 7, 2013
Asia’s family has published a book telling of her ordeal.  Proceeds from the book go to her family (who are in hiding) and help with her defense funds.

Blasphemy


December 13, 2012
Ashiq Masih and his 19 year old daughter, Sidra, visited Spain to petition the government there to help free Asia and grant her asylum.  He spoke to junior foreign minister Gonzalo de Benito in Madrid.  The visit was organized by Hazte Oir, a Spanish Roman Catholic group.  According to Ignacio Arsuaga, the foreign minister indicated that, “it is quite prepared to grant asylum as soon as Asia Bibi herself requests it,” and that they are always willing to help in her defense.   Ashiq said, “We are very happy and have great faith that this country will help free my wife.”   Asia is currently in prison, awaiting an appeal of her death sentence for blasphemy.  The family was forced into hiding after receiving numerous death threats.
“She is protected in prison and they are treating her well, but she is having a hard time because she is very far from her family and is suffering psychologically,” Ashiq said. “We live in hiding in Pakistan and we are very afraid. They say we have blasphemed… and that they are going to kill us.” (Daily Times – Pakistan)
Information Source:  Church in Chains

Help free Asia Bibi!


UPDATE  9/3/2012 
More than 150,000 Pakistanis have signed a petition requesting the release of Asia Bibi, in prison and sentenced to death for blasphemy for stating that “Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins”.  Voice of the Martyrs is attempting to collect 1,000,000 signatures to the petition for her release.  You can sign the petition here.  Let all your friends know about A Call for Mercy.

Asia’s daughters and husband went into hiding this summer.  They are praying earnestly for her release.  Stand along side of them in prayer and support for her release, as well as the release of Shamim Bibi, and other political and religious prisoners in Pakistan.


asia-bibi-2Asia Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009, on blasphemy charges.  The 37 year old mother of 5 was working on the farm of Muhammad Idrees.  Some of the Muslim women were telling her about their faith, and when they finished, she told them of her Christian beliefs.  When she told of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, she said that Jesus is alive, but Muhammad is dead.  The women attacked her, and began to beat her, then she was taken by some men and locked in a room.  The local mosque announced over the loud speaker that her face would be blackened and she would be paraded through the streets of town on a donkey.  Local Christians contacted the police, who took her into custody before this could happen.  (There are only 3 Christian families in Asia’s village of 1,500 families.)

Christians lobbied on behalf of Asia, asking the police not to file charges against her, but they claimed they were under pressure from local Muslims.  Nineteen months later she was convicted of breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law 295–blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad–and was sentenced to death.  So far, no Christian has ever been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy, but some have been killed by angry extremists upon their release.

Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, visited her in January (2012) and again in March.  In January she appeared happy, and filled with thanksgiving and joy.  She said, “I am very thankful for this visit.  I am happy and fine.  I am praying every day.  I am strong in my faith.  I know that this is the test of my faith, and I know to make gold, it must be purified in the fire.  I am strong in my faith, and I know that God will release me.  I pray that God forgives the people who blamed me.”

When Ashiq visited her in March, she expressed discouragement regarding her release, but as he was telling her about how her daughters were doing in school, he felt God’s presence and heard Him say, “Don’t be afraid.  I am with you.”


UPDATE 6/23/12
Asia’s family has gone into hiding in fear of their lives.  Human rights workers in the country are afraid to provide updates on her situation, believing that will bring more harm to her and her family.  The country has already seen the murder of two of its high ranking government officials due to their criticism of the blasphemy law and their support of Asia–Salman Taseer, the Governor of the Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minorities Minister.  Asia has come to represent the thousands of people in prison for their religious convictions.  Pray for her, her family, and the country of Pakistan.  She knows the world is working hard for her release.


UPDATE 6/5/12 

  • Sign the petition to free Asia
  • Encourage your senators and representatives to support all congressional legislation regarding Freedom of Religion here and around the world.
  • Let your friends know about Asia, and encourage them to pray.
  • Pray for Asia, her family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Pray for God’s intervention on her behalf, that she will soon be safely released.
  • Pray for the salvation of those who accused her, and who are holding her.
  • Write to Asia:

Asia Bibi
District Jail
Sheikhupura
Punjab
Pakistan
Letter Writing Guidelines:
DON’T mention the source of your information or name any organizations.  Letters from individual people are acceptable, but prisoners may receive harsher treatment and longer sentences if it appears they are connected with an “international organization”.  This is why families sometimes don’t want their loved ones listed by name.  Also, please don’t say anything negative about her country, its laws, or its practices.  Focus the letter on encouraging Asia, strengthening her with quotes from the Bible, and your prayers.

Sources:  Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors.
Photograph is a picture distributed by Asia’s family, and is a Google public domain image.

Dear Lord,
You are Asia’s father and you are there, right now, with her in her prison cell.  I thank you for her joyful spirit, and her faith and trust in you.  I can’t even imagine what she is going through, having been incarcerated for almost 3 years.  Strengthen her, Father.  Support her daughters.   Encourage her husband.  I join together with her in asking that You forgive those that sent her there, and I pray that she will be a shining, golden light to everyone around her.  I pray that not a single day of prison time will pass without a rich blessing for Asia.  I pray that You, the Lord God Almighty, who does as He chooses with the nations of the earth, will intervene on her behalf.  Release her from prison at the most perfect time, reveal Yourself to her fellow prisoners and  her jailors, and let the district jail become a sanctuary for Your Spirit.  Let her light so shine in that dark place, that every one around her will want what she has, will turn to You, and be saved!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they released her because her light was too bright?  Thank you for the work you are doing in that “forsaken” spot in the world, because you haven’t forsaken it.  In Jesus’ loving name, Amen.

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Military School Children: Pakistan

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UPDATE  December 18, 2014
A year ago, terrorists entered the public school in Peshawar, Pakistan, and killed 144 children and teachers.  An organization called 141 Schools has partnered with The Citizens Foundation and have launched a project to build 141 schools, one in the name of each victim of the Peshawar school massacre.  They have just begun the 23rd school.  You can learn more, and support this project, here at 141schools.org.  You can also write a letter of support and encouragement to the children of the school.  Send it to letterstopeshawar@outlook.com by December 24th, 2015.

Source:  The Human Lens


UPDATE  December 18, 2014
Here is an article from The Human Lens, which explains how Pakistanis are reacting to Tuesday’s shooting.  I hope you’ll take the time to check it out!


Tehreek-e-Taliban, a Pakistani militant group attempting to overthrow the government, attacked a military school in Peshawar today, Tuesday, December 16, 2014, killing at least 141 people, most of them children in grades 1-10, and wounding 121 others.  The seven attackers entered the school in the morning wearing explosive vests, and began shooting.  Pakistani military commandos arrived in armored troop carriers, and began returning fire.  A military helicopter hovered overhead.  The school has been cleared and all attackers were killed in the invasion.  There were 1,099 children and staff at the school during the attack.

“My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now,” wailed one parent, Tahir Ali, as he came to the hospital to collect the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. “My son was my dream. My dream has been killed.”

Pakistan’s Prime Minister promised that the government would continue with its plan to destroy the militants from the North Waziristan area.  “The fight will continue. No one should have any doubt about it,” Sharif said.

Source:  Yahoo News

You can find more information here:  The Human Lens

What you can do:

  • Pray for the families of the children and staff (9) who were killed.
  • Pray for those recovering from their wounds.
  • Pray for healing for the nation and people of Pakistan.

Father, there are no words to express the horror of a people who would attack children at their school, yet it happens more and more frequently.  I pray for the families of those who were killed.  I ask You to pour out Your comfort upon them.  Make Your presence real in each of their lives, and heal them from their horrific pain and grief.  Draw them to Yourself.  Give them wisdom and courage.  Guide their every step as their lives change forever.  I pray for those who are wounded.  Lay Your healing hand upon them, for You are the God Who Heals Us.  Speak to them.  Reveal Yourself to them.  Encourage them, and make them into the people You created them to be.  Only You, the Good God, can bring good out of such evil.  I thank You for the work You are doing in Pakistan, and I ask You to pour out Yourself and Your love on that nation today and in the weeks ahead.  Send light into all the dark corners, and empower the people and the government to effectively fight this Taliban evil that threatens their land.  Overcome evil with Your great good.  Amen

Young Christian Girls: Pakistan

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Several young Christian girls in Pakistan have been beaten, raped, or imprisoned to punish them or their family members for breaking religious taboos.

An eight-year-old girl was kidnapped,  beaten, stripped naked, and left on the streets to shame her uncle who was dating a Muslim woman.  Village authorities refused to help, and arrested members of her family instead of the attackers.  (Source ACLJ)  You can sign a petition on her behalf here.

The Asian Human Rights Commission charges that a 12 year old Christian girl was lured away by a friend’s uncle while on a shopping trip.  She was driven 120 miles away and raped for eight months before she was able to escape.  Authorities are threatening the girl’s parents with criminal charges if they don’t hand her over to her kidnapper (who claims he is married to her).  Her parents reported her missing in January 2015, but the authorities refused to do anything.  Her abductor is affiliated with a radical religious organization, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. (Source  Daily Mail, Christian Today)

A young Christian girl was imprisoned and beaten by the headmistress of her school for using a Muslim bathroom.  The third grade student, Sara Bibi, was locked in the bathroom for 3 hours, excoriated by the headmistress, and has been expelled from the school.  Her family is now in hiding.  Senator Sherry Rehman introduced the situation to the Pakistani Senate, and an investigation has been initiated.  (Source Christian Today)

Violence against women and girls is rising in Pakistan, and the laws reinforce this violence.  It affects women of all religious affiliations, resulting in the false imprisonment of hundreds of women throughout the country.  For more information see The Human Lens discussions on violence against women in Pakistan.

Please pray, pray, pray for the political and religious situation in Pakistan.  You may also write your political representatives, urging congress to do all they can to stand up for the basic human rights of all people.  Violence against the defenseless is an every day issue in the United States of America, as well.  We need to do all that we can to support those who cannot defend themselves.  Please share ways that you find to help them, with us!

Two Churches: Pakistan

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Two churches were bombed on Sunday, March 15, 2015.  Seventy-eight people were injured and at least 17 people were killed.  The two bombings occurred within minutes of each other and were timed to cause the greatest injuries.  More than 2,000 people were present when the bombs went off in two separate sections of the Christian community in Lahore.  Four security guards and police, who were killed in the attack, prevented even greater injury by tackling the attackers, keeping them from entering the buildings before they could detonate their devises.  The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Source:  Voice of the Martyrs

What you can do:

  • Pray for the government and the people of Pakistan.  There is much persecution of women and people of all types of faith in this country.
  • Pray for the people involved in this terrorist attack, and the many other attacks that occur frequently in Pakistan.
  • Write to your congressional representatives regarding the world-wide persecution of people and minorities.

Father, Pakistan is a country wracked by terrorism and persecution.  I ask You to continue to raise up men and women who are willing to take the dangerous stand against this policy.  So many of them have already been assassinated, but I ask You to raise up ten in the place of each person who has been killed until the whole country stands firmly on behalf of the human rights that You have given to each person on earth.  I pray for the peace of Pakistan, for a renewal of this war-torn country, and for a Spirit of Hope to sweep through the land.  I pray for all people affected by terrorist attacks, that You will bring them strength, endurance, comfort, protection, and support.  I pray for the families of the guards and police who were killed, Father.  Bless them, encourage them, comfort and console them.  Strengthen those who survived the attacks and heal them of their wounds, physical and emotional.  Keep them strong in Your love, Father.   I pray that Your Spirit will be strong in Pakistan, and that Your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.  Amen.

Farah Javed: Pakistan

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Farah Javed was permanently paralyzed as a result of a suicide bomber’s attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan on September 22, 2013. Eighty people were killed in the attack, and more than 150 were wounded. She died sixteen months later of an infection, on January 11, 2015, after battling many medical conditions resulting from her injuries. Farah’s father died in 2014, leaving her mother and siblings facing very difficult times.

Source:  Voice of the Martyrs

What you can do:

  • Pray for Farah’s mother and family as they grieve the loss of their loved one.
  • Pray for God’s provision for the family.
  • Pray for the All Saints Church in Peshawar.
  • Pray for all the families who lost members during the attack.

Father, I thank You for the brave fight that Farah put forth in her struggle to recover from the injuries she sustained.  I thank You, too, that she is no longer in pain, but resting easily as she waits for Jesus to appear.  I pray for her family, for all those who love and miss her–comfort them, and heal them through their grief.  I pray for all the victims of the bombing.  You are the God of all comfort.  Comfort them with Your supernatural presence, and fill them with Your Spirit.  Empower them to love and forgive those who hurt them, and to endure all that comes their way in these perilous times.  Forgive them if and when they lose their way, and bring them back into the house of Your love.  Amen.

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi: Pakistan

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Shahzad-and-her-wife-Shama-Bibi-3Shahzad Masih, and his pregnant wife Shama Bibi, were working as bonded (indentured) laborers in the brick-kiln in their village, Chak 59, about 40 miles southwest of Lahore.  The majority of kiln workers in this region are Christians, and they have a very hard life.  Shahzad had been working there for 17 years, attempting to pay off his father’s debt.  He began working there at age 13, and his three children (with one more on the way) have more of the same to look forward to.

According to the World Watch Monitor, Parveen Bibi, Shama’s sister, reported that Shama’s father-in-law “used to do black magic”.  Shama was burning amulets and other documents that were part of his materials.  Some of the documents may have included Qur’anic verses, but because she was completely illiterate, Shama would not have known this.  It was announced over the loud-speaker at the local mosque that she had burned a Quran, a mob developed, and they rushed to the kiln.  The workers ran away, and Shahzad and Shama locked themselves in a room.  Attackers climbed onto the thatched roof, and dragged the couple out.  They broke their legs, beat them with clubs and axes, tied them to a tractor, and dragged them around.  As the couple was screaming for their lives, they poured gasoline over them, and drove them into a kiln where they were burned to death.

One report states that the owner of the kiln started the rumor because the couple owed him some money.  The five law officers who arrived on the scene were unable to control the mob.  A massive crack down by police in the area has caused the mobsters to “disappear.”

Sources:  Voice of the Martyrs
The Nation
The Tribune
World Watch Monitor

What you can do:

  • Pray for the children of this couple.
  • Pray for the village, the country, and the government of Pakistan.
  • Contribute to an organization that supports the needs of orphaned children.

Father, there is no way to know the horror that a day can bring:  school children attacked, tortured, and killed, mothers imprisoned and sentenced to death for their faith, and now a couple, mobbed, tortured and burned alive.  And these things don’t just happen in Pakistan–they are happening all around the world, everyday, with increasing frequency.  You said that those who choose to follow Jesus will be persecuted, just as He was, and that if we suffer with Him we will also be glorified with Him.  I thank You that Shahzad and Shama did not suffer and die alone–You were right there with them, and with their child-in-womb, and now they are at peace, but the horror of how they died is overwhelming!  And they leave behind 4 other children eight years of age and under.  Protect them, Father.  Provide a home and “new” parents for them.  I ask You to bring them to a family that will be able to lift them out of their status as indentured slaves.  I pray that you will reveal Yourself to each of their children, teach them Your ways, and heal them from this unspeakable horror that has changed their lives completely.  I pray for the people of this village, for restoration, reconciliation, and deliverance.  I pray for the police as they work to end this reprehensible behavior.  I pray for the people who killed this beautiful couple–convict them of their sin, give them a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and draw them to Yourself.  For the sake of Your great name.  Amen.