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PAKISTAN: Court Acquits Imran Ghafur Masih

PAKISTAN: Court Acquits Imran Ghafur Masih

The Lahore High Court has acquitted Imran Ghafur Masih, a Christian sentenced to life in prison under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. According to Imran’s family, they have moved into hiding following the acquittal due to potential threats from extremists.

On 15 December, the Lahore High Court acquitted Imran after he spent more than 10 years in prison. The development came as a shock to Imran’s family. “It is a day of resurrection for us,” said Naveed Masih, Imran’s brother. “God has heard our cry and we are very thankful to him. It’s a Christmas gift for us.”

On 1 July 2009, Imran was cleaning his family’s bookshop in Hajweri town, located in Faisalabad. He was about to burn some garbage he collected, which included some old books and papers, when he came across a textbook with Arabic writing. Concerned that the book contained religious writings, Imran consulted Hajji Liaquat Ali, his Muslim neighbour.

Ali told Imran to burn the book, so Imran threw it into the fire and walked away. When the book was partially burned, Ali returned and pulled it out of the fire. Ali used this partially burned book to falsely accuse Imran of burning a Koran. According to Imran’s family, Ali wanted the storefront leased to the family’s bookshop to expand his building materials business located next door.

News of the incident soon spread to local mosques, which made announcements over their PA systems. A mob of approximately 400 enraged Muslims gathered at Imran’s home. The mob beat Imran, along with his brother, Naveed, and father, Ghafur, before dousing the Christians with paraffin in an attempt to burn them alive.

Local police intervened, arrested Imran, and took him to the police station. A mob of 1,000 reportedly gathered outside of the police station and demanded Imran be handed to them. The mob chanted, “Hang him who disgraces the Holy Koran… Christians are dogs. Imran is a dog.” Police soon registered a blasphemy case against Imran and copies of the charges were distributed to the mob.

On 11 January 2010, the Sessions Court of Faisalabad sentenced Imran to life in prison and a fine of 100,000 rupees under Sections 295-A and 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Imran’s case was appealed to the Lahore High Court but was postponed nearly 70 times over the course of the next 10 years. According to Imran’s lawyer, the appeal passed through the offices of at least 10 justices.

“We went through a very painful time during Imran’s imprisonment,” Naveed said. “Imran lost his parents and was not allowed to attend the funerals. We lost our business and jobs which has affected our children’s education and future. We have not seen any happiness during these years.”

In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are common and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Currently, 24 Christians are imprisoned on blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Praise God for this wonderful answer to prayer. May it give cause for celebration for Christians all over Pakistan.
  • Pray that Imran and his family will be shielded from those who still wish to harm them. Ask the Lord to bless Imran as he adjusts to life outside of prison and makes plans for the future.
  • Pray the Lord will use this case to draw further attention to deficiencies in the justice system and the potential for blasphemy laws to be open to abuse.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

 

PAKISTAN: Court Acquits Christian Sentenced to Death in Blasphemy Case

PAKISTAN: Court Acquits Christian Sentenced to Death in Blasphemy Case

A Christian man sentenced to death, has been acquitted by a Pakistani court, six years after he was charged with blaspheming the Islamic prophet Mohammad.

Last Tuesday, the Lahore High Court acquitted Sawan Masih, a street sweeper from the eastern city of Lahore who was sentenced to death in March 2014 under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

Masih, a father of three, was accused by his Muslim friend, Muhammad Shahid, of insulting the Islamic prophet Mohammad during a conversation in the eastern Lahore city’s Joseph Colony.

The following day, mosques recounted the accusation against Masih over their PA systems, prompting a mob of more than 3,000 Muslims to loot and burn 180 Christian homes, 75 shops, and at least two churches. Amid the violence, Christian families were forced to flee the area.

Masih denied the charges and said the accusations were made due to a property dispute.

Masih was handed over to the police and was later charged under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code. He was subsequently sentenced to death under Section 295-C by Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza, saying he “must be hanged and fined,” in a trial held in the Lahore Camp Jail due to security concerns.

The Lahore High Court decided that the prosecution had failed to establish that Masih had committed blasphemy and acquitted him.

His family is being threatened and is in hiding.

Sources: The New Indian Express, The Christian Post, Church in Chains

  • Praise God for answering the prayers of Sawan Masih, his family and people all over the world.
  • Pray that Sawan will experience the Lord’s physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Pray for strength and patience as the family try to overcome and adapt, after being so long apart.
  • Pray for the protection of Sawan and his family. Pray too that the Lord will lead them as they consider their future.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Pastor Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

PAKISTAN: Pastor Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

Jadoon Masih, a Pentecostal pastor who was arrested two years ago on charges of blasphemy, was acquitted on 12 July by the High Court in Lahore. Before his arrest, Masih was a pastor at Nasiri Pentecostal Church. While this is good news for Masih and the Christian community of Pakistan, the potential for mob violence against him and his family continues to raise concerns.

On 2 February 2017, Masih was arrested after Muslim clerics repeatedly found pages of the Koran lying on the grounds of his church. Torn pages of the Koran kept being left by unknown individuals on the grounds of his church for more than two months prior to his arrest.

In 2016, a similar incident happened to a different Christian leader named Babu Shabaz. In Shabaz’s case, his name was inscribed on the torn pages of the Koran that were left scattered on the floor of his church. There is little doubt that both Shabaz and Masih were framed for committing blasphemy.

Christians who are accused of blasphemy in Pakistan fear being killed by a mob or suffering severely in prison. In fact, even though Masih was granted bail in 2017, he lives in hiding with his six children because of the stigma attached to blasphemy victims.

False accusations of blasphemy are unfortunately common in Pakistan. The country’s notorious blasphemy laws are widely misused to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred against a minority community. In the case of Masih, it is great to see that Pakistan’s judicial system was able to come to a just result. However, the stigma of being accused of blasphemy will likely follow Masih for the rest of his life.

Source: International Christian Concern

  • Thank the Lord for Masih’s acquittal. Pray for him and his family as they make plans for their future life and ministry.
  • Pray the family will be greatly supported by their Christian community. Ask the Lord to surround the family with His protection.
  • Pray those in authority may quickly make the necessary changes to ensure the blasphemy laws can no longer be abused.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal Upheld

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal Upheld

Pakistan’s top court has rejected a challenge to the acquittal of a Christian woman on blasphemy charges. The Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence.

She was originally convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in a row with her neighbours and spent eight years on death row. She has always maintained her innocence in a case that has polarised Pakistan.

The Supreme Court’s quashing of her sentence last October led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws, while more liberal sections of society urged her release.

Hardliners had petitioned to overturn this ruling.

The three-judge panel of the country’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said the arguments of the lawyer acting on behalf of the petitioners did not satisfy the judges.

Bibi was held under house arrest at a secret place up until the hearing. Reports suggest she may be offered asylum in Canada.

There are 218 other Christians who currently face blasphemy charges.

Sources: BBC, CLAAS, Release International

  • Thank the Lord for this ruling, pray this may be the start of considerable change in assuring justice for minorities in Pakistan.
  • Ask the Lord to surround Asia with His continued protection as she starts a new life with her family.
  • Remember and intercede for those who currently face blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

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PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Acquitted

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Acquitted

A Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy has won her appeal and been acquitted in a landmark ruling.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours.

She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

Her case has been deeply divisive in Pakistan where there is strong support for the blasphemy laws.

There is tight security in the capital, Islamabad, amid fears of violence. Hardline religious clerics have called on their supporters to take to the streets.

The ruling was read out by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar at the Supreme Court in Islambad.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside.”

Critics say Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws have often been used to get revenge after personal disputes, and that convictions are based on thin evidence.

Asia Bibi’s case gained added prominence when a regional governor, Salman Taseer, who had appealed for leniency for her was murdered in a public square in Islamabad by his own bodyguard.

There are fears that there could be a violent response to her acquittal.

As with her previous trials and appeal large crowds have gathered outside the court in Islamabad on Wednesday demanding her conviction be upheld.

She has been offered asylum by several countries and was expected to leave the country if acquitted.

Source: BBC

  • Praise God for answered prayer.
  • Pray that Asia and all those who made her freedom possible today remain safe.
  • Pray that God will protect all Christians in Pakistan.
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