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IRAN: Christian Prisoner in Urgent Need of Medical Care

IRAN: Christian Prisoner in Urgent Need of Medical Care

Family and friends of Maryam (Naseem) Naghash Zargaran, a believer from a Muslim background who has been held for nearly three years in Evin Prison, Tehran, are greatly concerned about her present situation and request prayer for her treatment and release from prison.

On Thursday 27 May, Maryam went on hunger strike as a protest against the lack of adequate medical treatment for long-standing health problems. She has refused solids and liquids and has not allowed prison medical staff to give her serum. Sources close to the family say that her condition is serious and that Maryam is close to becoming comatose.

Maryam has a history of heart problems. In addition, she has recently been suffering from pain in her ears and severe headaches. She has lost a lot of weight and continues to suffer from depression. Although the medical authorities in the prison recognise the severity of her condition and the need for treatment, the prosecutor’s office has refused to allow Maryam to leave prison to receive adequate care. The only recent concession was in October 2015, when she was allowed to go to a hospital for a few days, but forced to return to prison without receiving full treatment.

It has been reported that fellow prisoners in the prison ward showed their support for Maryam by forgoing family visits on 29 May, as a form of protest.

Maryam was arrested in January 2013 in connection with her work on an orphanage with former Christian prisoner Saeed Abedini. She was charged with “acting against national security” and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, which she started serving on 15 July 2013 in the women’s ward of Evin prison. A request for a retrial was refused.

Source: Middle East Concern

 Prayer Points

  • Pray Maryam will be released! In the meantime, pray the prosecutor will relent and allow Maryam to go to hospital to receive proper treatment.
  • Ask the Lord to bring healing and sustain Maryam and her family and friends during this critical time.
  • Thank the Lord for the support she has received from her follow prisoners; may this bring her encouragement.

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IRAQ: New Law to Force Children to Become Muslim

IRAQ: New Law to Force Children to Become Muslim

A new law in Iraq would require the conversion of children to Islam if their father were to convert or if their mother were to marry a Muslim man or a Muslim-background Christian.

The long-term implications for this would be devastating as changing identification documents back to Christian is nearly impossible.

This puts even greater strain on the church in Iraq and raises serious questions regarding the basic rights and religious freedoms in the country. The new law would also violate international standards for religious freedom and conscience.

Sources: World, International Christian Concern

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Iraqi president Fuad Masum and his colleagues will reject the newly proposed law.
  • Pray for Christian children in Iraq who are being pressured to convert by the government or their community; pray that they will remain strong in their faith and never deny Christ.
  • Ask the Lord to bring a great Christian revival to Iraq; pray the current uncertainty and great unrest will be used by the Lord for the spiritual good of the Iraqi people.

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PAKISTAN: Court Clears Way for Father to Visit Asia Bibi

PAKISTAN: Court Clears Way for Father to Visit Asia Bibi

A Pakistani court has directed the Punjab provincial government and police to give the father of death row convict Asia Bibi prison visitation rights, a family lawyer says.

The directive comes two days after Soran Masih filed a petition in the Lahore High Court demanding access to his daughter.

Masih said authorities had repeatedly blocked him from the prison following Bibi’s conviction for blasphemy in 2012.

“Judge Muhammad Anwar ul Haq issued directives to the jail superintendent of Multan and the Home Department to let Soran Masih and his family members see Asia Bibi,” Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Masih’s lawyer, told UCA News on 25 August.

“We are thankful to the high court for a swift action on our petition,” Gill said. He said Masih and other close family members could now visit Bibi when they want.

She is being held in the central Pakistani city of Multan, some 290 kilometres from Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab province.

Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was sentenced to death in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Mohammed, a charge she denies. Bibi says she was targeted after drinking water from a vessel used by Muslim farmworkers. The workers said it was forbidden for a Christian to drink water from the same container and later reported her for blasphemy, saying she had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Her appeal against the death sentence is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

Source: Assist News Service

Prayer Points

• Thank the Lord for this small mercy shown to Asia and her family. Pray there will be many opportunities to visit and that this will bring great encouragement to all involved.
• Pray that the Supreme Court will deliver a fair-minded decision and justice and favour for Asia will prevail.
• Pray this lengthy ordeal for Asia and her family will be used by the Lord to highlight the intrinsic difficulties resulting from the current blasphemy laws and that significant change will come.

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