Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan ‘for blasphemy’

The London Daily Telegraph reports: “Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.

‘I haven’t told two of my younger daughters about the court’s decision,’ he said. ‘They asked me many times about their mother but I can’t get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed.’ Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.

The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore ‘unclean’, according to Mrs Bibi’s evidence, sparking a row.

The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.

The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: ‘The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

‘So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her.’ He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.

‘The trial was clear,’ he said. ‘She was innocent and did not say those words.’ Earlier this year, Pakistan’s internet service providers were ordered to block Facebook to prevent access to supposedly blasphemous images.

Human rights groups believe the law is often used to discriminate against religious minorities, such as the country’s estimated three million Christians.

Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws – most are freed on appeal – as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial…”(The blasphemy law is wicked and favors Islam. The UN is pushing for its passage led by President Obama and 56 Muslim nations and is being created to persecute Christians. Beloved in Christ, stand firm on Jude 1:3, 4 – “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ“.)

Pakistan Cleric Offers Reward for Killing Christian Woman

Voice of America News reports: “A Pakistani cleric says if the government does not hang a Christian mother of five convicted last month of blasphemy against Islam, then his mosque will offer a reward of $6,000 to anyone who kills her. Yousef Qureshi issued the call Friday (12/3/10).

Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs Shabaz Bhatti has recommended that Asia Bibi be pardoned or released from prison if her pending court appeal is not quickly addressed.

Bibi has denied claims by local women that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

Bibi is the first woman condemned to die under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Convictions under the law are common, but no executions have ever been carried out.

During her trial, Bibi told the court Muslim villagers were pressing her to accept Islam. She said she is being prosecuted because of her religion.

Bibi’s husband says the family has been forced to flee their home near Lahore because of threats on his wife’s life if she is released from prison…” (Imagine such hatred, filling a Muslim clerics head and heart. His problem and punishment when he meets Christ on Judgment Day is described in I John 3:15: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”)

Christians launch defence of faith ‘under attack’

BBC News reports: “Christians who believe their faith is ‘under attack’ in Britain are launching a campaign to defend it.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey will launch ‘Not Ashamed Day’ outside the House of Lords.

Campaigners say a mounting number of cases of workers being disciplined over their beliefs show Christianity is being ‘airbrushed’ from UK society.

The National Secular Society said ‘zealots’ were wrong to claim the faith was being deliberately undermined.

The day, organised by Christian Concern, will kick off a campaign to urge Christians to ‘wear their faith with pride’.

Lord Carey will launch a leaflet that warns Britain’s Christian culture is ‘under attack’. Later in the day copies will be delivered to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, followed by a lobbying event in Parliament.

Lord Carey said hostility towards the religion came from a combination of ‘well-meaning’ political correctness, multiculturalism and ‘overt opposition to Christianity’…” (I Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called…”)

Iraqi Christians flee homes after fresh Baghdad attacks

The Christian Science Monitor reports: “A wave of bombings and mortar attacks struck Christian areas across Baghdad Wednesday, sending families fleeing their homes a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged the government would protect them.

Interior Ministry officials said improvised bombs and a car bomb were detonated near the homes of Christians in at least seven neighborhoods in Baghdad…killing at least four people and wounding more than 16.

The bombings, which came 10 days after more than 50 Christians were killed by Al Qaeda-linked gunmen who stormed a church during Sunday mass, have sown panic in the close-knit community.

Some fled their homes to seek refuge at the very church which was attacked on Oct 31.

‘We were so afraid – we left without taking anything,’ says Umm Danny, surrounded by her three children, a niece, and a nephew in the church hall of Our Lady of Salvation in central Baghdad. She said they hear explosions so often in their south Baghdad neighborhood of Dora they didn’t think anything of it until one detonated on their block near the home of a particularly devout Christian family.

‘We went barefoot onto the roof and climbed onto our Muslim neighbor’s house,’ she says. ‘They helped us and told us to stay with them but we were afraid.’ Umm Danny, who did not want her full name used, said the neighbors cried when they left.

‘I think this is only a warning,’ says another Christian planning to leave for the Kurdish capital of Erbil. ‘We are expecting anything at any time. It seems as if they can do anything without anyone stopping them.’…” (One million Chaldean Christians have fled Iraq because of Muslim persecution and death squads. Two priests and 58 believers were slaughtered when the Catholic Mass was invaded and disrupted. What a blessing Revelation 2:10 promises – “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” See also the next article.)

Church leader urges Iraqi Christians to quit country

BBC News reports: “A senior Iraqi Christian has called on believers to quit the country, after gunmen targeted a church in Baghdad.

Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, who is based in the UK, made his appeal during a service at the Syrian Orthodox Church in London.

The archbishop said Christians had been without protection since the US-led invasion in 2003.

At least 52 people died as security forces stormed a Catholic church in Baghdad to free dozens of hostages.

A number of gunmen entered Our Lady of Salvation in the city’s Karrada district during Mass on Sunday 31 October, sparking an hours-long stand-off.

The militants made contact with the authorities by mobile phone, demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners and also of a number of Muslim women they insisted were being held prisoner by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

After negotiations failed, Iraqi security forces stormed the building, before the gunmen reportedly threw grenades and detonated their suicide vests.

…Archbishop Dawood advised all Christians to leave Iraq now al-Qaeda had warned of more attacks there.

He told the BBC the attack on the church amounted to ‘genocide’ and there was now no place for Christians in Iraq.

‘The Christians are weak – they don’t have militia, they don’t have a (political) party,’ he said…”