A Pakistani bike shop owner has been accused of blasphemy after telling one of his customers that Christians believe Jesus to have been the final prophet. Ashfaq Masih, 28, was arrested following accusations that he had “disrespected” Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
The incident took place in Lahore on 15 June at Masih’s shop in the Bagarhian suburb of the city, near a sizeable Christian neighbourhood, the majority of whose inhabitants work as manual labourers.
As the argument unfolded, the owner of a nearby shop, Muhammad Ashfaq, joined a crowd of people who had amassed to hear what was going on. Muhammad Ashfaq, a complainant in the case, told World Watch Monitor: “Even when other men had gathered, Ashfaq Masih maintained a disrespectful stance. “While the argument was going on, someone informed the emergency police, who reached the spot and immediately put him in the police van and left.”
A local police chief, Wasim Akhtar, said the incident had been “unfortunate” but that the situation was “under control”.
“Most of my customers are Christians and I have been running this shop for the last 17 years and no religious argument has ever happened before,” added Muhammad Ashfaq. “Masih took over the shop about two years ago and this is the first time an argument like this has taken place. However, now a few children have informed us that he used to talk about religion.”
Masih’s lawyer, Riaz Anjum, said he would file an application for bail. “The family is extremely poor and have now fled,” he added. “We are in touch with the police and working so that the family can soon return to their home.”
Pakistani Christians make up only 1.5 per cent of the total population but over a quarter (187) of the 702 blasphemy cases registered between 1990 and 2014 were against Christians.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Intercede for Masih and his family. May the Lord’s strength and protection be upon them. Pray they may remain faithful to Him during this difficult time of testing.
- Pray this case will very soon be resolved so that Masih may be released.
- Ask the Lord to somehow use this situation for good, in His perfect timing for Masih, his family and the Christian community.
An independent investigation has been called for after an alleged attack by police officers on a Christian community in Bangladesh on 24 March which left 25 injured.
The incident took place in Doripara village, near Dhaka which falls under the authority of the Kaliganj police station.
On 24 March, four plain clothes police officers raided the home of a Christian woman, Mina Dores. The police officers did not produce their identity cards or a warrant and took approximately 5000 taka (around $80) from her home.
Family members, thinking the men were thieves, challenged them to show their identity cards. The men refused and locked the family in a room.
Neighbours rushed to assist the family and started beating the plain clothes officers until a group of 30 policemen from Gazipur district arrived, at which point they shot at and beat the villagers. A number of homes were damaged and approximately 25 people were injured. Five remain in a critical condition. The villagers, fearing for their safety, were reluctant to file a police complaint or First Information Report (FIR), however the police filed an FIR on 25 March against the Christian community.
William Samadder Proloy, Secretary General of the Christian Association Bangladesh, visited Doripara Village on 25 March and expressed his shock at the severity of the attack on the Christian community. He has called for an immediate investigation and justice for victims.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Pray for those who remain in hospital; may they receive the medical care they require; ask the Lord to fully restore them to health.
- Pray the Lord will use the testimonies of these believers, so this incident will serve as a witness to the Gospel.
- Pray the perpetrators will be brought to justice and also be given an opportunity to hear the message of salvation.
A Muslim mob looted and torched Christian property and homes in Al-Beida village, Egypt on 17 June, after rumours spread of a Christian-owned building being turned into a local church.
More than 80 Christian families were affected by the attack last Friday, leaving hundreds afraid and without a place to conduct their Christian worship.
Christian residents of Al-Beida do not have a local church building. In fact, they are forced to worship at the Holy Virgin and the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church, which is seven kilometres away. The presumed church construction was actually the construction of a home for a local, Naim Aziz.
The angry mob attacked the building and destroyed all of the construction materials. They then attacked Naim and his brother, Mousa, leaving both men injured. After this, the mob turned their wrath on the Christian homes adjacent to the building, hurling rocks, looting houses and setting fire to any Christian property in their wake. The damages are estimated to be around 500,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $75,000).
When police arrived on the scene they were unable to protect the Christians from the ongoing assaults. The Muslim mob continued to set homes and cars on fire in the presence of the police, unabated. The mob terrorised residents by gathering outside of Christian doors to perform their afternoon prayers on loudspeakers aimed at the houses, all in the presence of the security forces.
In the end, police arrested six Muslim men, all of whom were released by that evening, and six Christian men, who were released on bail the following day. The police station in Amirya charged the Christian men with erecting a building without permit and holding prayers without permission.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Ask the Lord to bring justice to these people who suffered injury and loss so that those who were responsible for the strife will be held accountable. Ask the Lord to intervene in the case of the Christians who were charged.
- Pray to the Lord, our great healer and our provider; ask Him to restore health and courage as well as homes and livelihoods.
- Pray these Christians will not be timid about their faith but be all the more determined to meet together to encourage each other. Pray the witness of these Christians may be used by the Lord to bring many to Christ.
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