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Supreme Court of Pakistan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Khalid Mahmood

An influential court in Pakistan is calling for a mandatory death sentence for blasphemy. If implemented, the decision could result in further attacks and accusations against the country's Christian minority. It could also lead to the execution of those who have been falsely accused of blasphemy. The order, which was passed by the Federal Sharia Court earlier this month, now awaits implementation by the country's president.

At present, the majority of those convicted of blasphemy are serving a life sentence, even though the official penalty for defaming Islam's prophet Mohammed is death. The decision by the court would rule out jail sentences for those found guilty of blasphemy and mandate their execution.

Accusations of blasphemy are often levelled against individuals as a way of taking revenge or settling scores. The accusation alone can result in assassination, even for those cleared of the charges. "This is grave news, not just for Christians convicted of blasphemy but also for the many who are falsely accused," explains Release International's Colin King, director of VOMC's sister mission in the United Kingdom. "Extremists may interpret the Sharia Court's ruling as further license to attack even those whose cases have not yet come to court."

According to contacts, the court wants the order implemented "within a couple of months." If that happens, those convicted of blasphemy may not get the chance to appeal. Currently, many Christians convicted of this offense end up spending years in jail waiting for their appeal to be heard in court. Such believers include Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy -- a charge she denies. (For more on Asia's case, please visit this page.)

Pray that the Lord will intervene in this situation so that the proposed changes to the blasphemy law will not come about. Instead, may the authorities pursue justice, truth and benevolence for all citizens of Pakistan, including minorities. Ask the Lord to protect His dear children in Pakistan from accusations of blasphemy. Please also intercede for Asia Bibi and others like her who are spending yet another Christmas behind bars, separated from loved ones. May they look to the Lord for their deliverance and not lose heart.

For more information on our persecuted family in Pakistan, please visit our Pakistan Country Report.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC partners to train Christian women in sewing skills throughout Pakistan to provide a sustainable source of income for their families and encourage them in their faith and witness for Christ.

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Population
238,181,034 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Punjabi (44.7), Pashtun [Pathan] (15.4), Sindhi (14.1), Saraiki (8.4) Muhajirs (7.6) Balochi (3.6), Other (6.3)

Religion (%)
Islam (96.5), Other - Christian and Hindu (3.5)

Leader
President Arif Alvi (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Common law system with Islamic law influence

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Pakistan

Pray that amendments will be made to Pakistan's existing blasphemy laws so that the country's citizens – including its children – will be protected from injustice and abuse. May our Lord's mercy and justice prevail, not only in the judiciary system but also in the hearts of the country's militants. Ask Him to transform their "hearts of stone" into hearts that are receptive to His love, mercy and the workings of His Holy Spirit – not only for the purpose of protecting the Christian minority but also for the salvation of their own eternal souls.

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