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Christians look on as Muslim leaders
recite ritual prayer in church building
at the conclusion of a council meeting.
Photo: Morning Star News

For Christians in Pakistan, current blasphemy laws continue to pose a threat to their safety and well-being. The existing statutes have become an extreme burden for the country's minority faith group -- leading to harassment and, in many cases, severe punishment. At least 14 people are presently on death row, and 19 others are serving life sentences. According to a report by the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies, 52 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered since 1990. Investigations reveal that the reasons for the accusations often stem from personal enmity, property disputes and religious hatred. To review previously posted videos and news reports on persecution in Pakistan, click here.

In Nankana Sahib District of Punjab Province, a 94-year-old Christian landowner by the name of Chaudhry Habil Qaiser, who had attempted to resolve a disagreement over land profits, was wrongfully accused of blaspheming Islam by someone who used to till his land. After the accuser, Maulvi Muhammad Bashir, continued to spread false accusations of blasphemy, fears began to mount in the Christian village over the threat of a mob attack. Maulvi also decided to take the case to authorities which then incited a period of legal proceedings.

As Chaudhry was widely respected throughout the district for his integrity, the case was later dismissed. Maulvi then apologized for trying to turn a monetary dispute into a religious issue. In light of frequent abuses, Pakistan's federal government has finished the drafting of a bill to forestall abuse of the blasphemy statutes. According to officials, the bill aims to keep anyone from taking the law into their own hands and metes out harsh penalties for those who have levelled false accusations of blasphemy.

In another situation, a Christian young man with mental illness by the name of Yaqoob Bashir allegedly told local Muslims that he had burned a copy of the Quran. An angry mob of militants gathered and threatened to set him on fire. At this point, police took Yaqoob into custody which sources believe saved his life. As it now stands, current blasphemy laws do not take into account those with psychological challenges where the individual may not have intentionally blasphemed. The new law reform, however, would make it necessary -- in applicable cases -- to prove that the crimes committed by individuals in question are indeed "intentional."

Please pray that the Lord will help Pakistan's victimized Christians to stand strong spiritually, despite the false accusations and rumours they encounter. May they receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, as did our Saviour, who Himself was wrongly accused of blasphemy. As the details of the reformed law are being negotiated, ask that wisdom and discernment be granted to those involved in the deliberation process. Last, but not least, intercede on behalf of those who are actively spreading lies and rumours about God's innocent people, earnestly desiring that the 'accusers of the brethren' be given an opportunity to experience the salvation of the One who died for all -- including both Christians and Muslims.