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Stephen - Photo: Barnabas Fund - www.barnabasfund.org
Photo: Barnabas Fund

Stephen, a Christian man suffering from mental impairment, has been arrested under the country's blasphemy laws after a neighbour overheard a family argument. On March 11th, the accused got into a heated discussion with his brother-in-law over fasting and prayer during Lent and ended up losing his temper, shouting loudly -- a common symptom of his disability. A neighbour overheard the argument, barged into the home, and began beating Stephen. When the family attempted to intervene, the neighbour claimed that Stephen had committed blasphemy.

As a result of the accusation, a mob formed, and Stephen -- along with his family -- was beaten. Police eventually intervened and took Stephen away, alleging it was for his safety. However, charges have now been laid and his family members are denied permission to see him. Since no official diagnosis was previously made, they are concerned that his disability may not be recognized by the court. The Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) has taken on this case and is calling for an assessment to officially determine the extent of his condition.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws were brought to the forefront of international attention with the recent case of Asia Bibi. Unfortunately, many conflicting reports have spread since she was acquitted in October. We can assuredly state that Asia is not in Canada at this present time but rather under government protection in Pakistan. Despite recent news reports, her health is apparently sound. Asia's daughter Eisham is publicly appealing for Pakistan's prime minister to allow her mother permission to leave the country. Eisham is residing at an undisclosed location in Canada with her sister.

Pray for Stephen, along with many other believers who are imprisoned under charges for blasphemy. Remember this mentally challenged man's family and those advocating for his special needs. Also uphold Asia Bibi and her family, praying that this long-suffering mother will be permitted to leave the country now that she has been acquitted of all charges.