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Lahore, Pakistan

On August 12th, an angry Pakistani mob almost killed a 16-year-old Christian boy -- who is completely illiterate and also mentally challenged -- for allegedly burning the pages of a Quran. He was apparently forced to confess to the alleged crime, and is now in custody despite inconsistencies in evidence and witness testimonies of alternative explanations.

The incident involving Asif Masih, took place about 250 kilometres from Lahore in the remote village of Jamkay Cheema, in Gujranwala district. He has been charged under Section 295B of the blasphemy law and, if found guilty, faces life imprisonment.

Asif was buying a few household goods when Muhammad Nawaz, also known as Majhoo, grabbed him and started calling out to passersby that Asif had broken the money collection box in the shrine of a Sufi saint. When a crowd of people began to gather, Majhoo further incited them by stating that Asif had burned pages of a Quran. The mob then proceeded to attack the boy.

As the mob continued to assault Asif, someone informed the police. Officers then arrived from a nearby checkpost and placed Asif into their van. Despite this, people attempted to pull him out of the van and persist with their attacks. Recognizing the undeniable pressure, police called on the Alipur Chatta Police Station to send more officers to the scene. Until their arrival, Asif was still being attacked and, out of fear, confessed that he had burned the pages. While the boy was later in police custody, the frenzied mob arrived at the checkpost and tried to snatch Asif away.

Incidents such as these are nothing new due to the nature of Pakistan's blasphemy laws which pose serious threat for Christians residing in the country. Last month, a 16-year-old Pakistani Christian boy was charged with blasphemy merely for talking with a colleague about his belief in Jesus. In April of this year, a Muslim student was killed by a mob for allegedly posting "blasphemous" content on social media. A previous report relating to the need for a reform of Pakistan's blasphemy laws may be reviewed here.

As Asif's young life is presently under threat, please intercede for his protection while in custody. Ask God to minister encouragement, strength and the 'peace that surpasses all understanding' to him and his family while they wait for the legal proceedings to take place (Philippians 4:7). As the facts of this case come to light, may the judicial authorities respond toward Asif with mercy, fairness and without prejudice. Implore the Lord to intervene mightily on his behalf, also using the related incidents of mob violence to stress the dangers of the present blasphemy laws among Pakistan's authorities and citizens so necessary amendments can be made.