Christian Persecution Update

Last appeal of Christian on Pakistan death row for blasphemy

Blog note:  Christian Persecution. Jesus indicated that many would hate and persecute Christians because of His name. This has always been the case and is increasing in intensity and frequency.

Psalm 25:19. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.

Psalm 38:19. But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

Psalm 41:7. All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.

Psalm 69:4. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.

Psalm 69:14. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.

Matthew 10:22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mark 13:13. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Luke 6:22. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Luke 14:26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 19:14. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

Luke 21:17. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

John 7:7. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

John 15:18. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. End of note.

Last appeal of Christian on Pakistan death row for blasphemy

By KATHY GANNON | Associated Press.

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s Supreme Court is set to hear the final appeal Monday of a Christian on death row since 2010 accused of insulting Islam’s prophet, a crime that incites mobs to kill and carries an automatic death penalty.

Her lawyer Saiful Malook is optimistic Aasia Bibi will win her last legal appeal. But if not, he will seek a review, which could take years to complete.

“I am a 100 percent sure she will be acquitted,” Malook told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on the eve of the hearing. “She has a very good case.”

On a hot day in 2009, Bibi went to get water for her and her fellow farmworkers. After she took a sip, some of the Muslim women became angry that a Christian had drunk from the same container. They demanded she convert, she refused. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was convicted and sentenced to death.

Malook said he will argue that the many contradictions of the eyewitnesses taint their evidence. Malook said he will also argue that the witnesses were not judged in keeping with Islamic injunctions, which requires they be proven to be “pious, to never have lied, to be of good character.”

Internationally Bibi’s case has generated outrage, but in Pakistan it has rallied radical Islamists and militant groups, who have embraced Pakistan’s blasphemy law, using it to cultivate support and attack those who try to break their power.

Just defending her is dangerous.

“I have lost my health. I am a high blood pressure patent, my privacy is totally lost. You have to be in hiding,” her lawyer said. Everyone on his tree-lined street knows his identity. “They look at this house and they know this is the home of a person who can be killed at any time by angry mullahs.”

Outside Malook’s home in the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore police provide around-the-clock security. In 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province was shot and killed by one of his elite guards for defending Bibi and criticizing misuse of the blasphemy law. Malook prosecuted his killer, Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged for his crime. Qadri has since become a martyr to millions, who make a pilgrimage to a shrine erected in his name by his family outside the federal capital.

Last month a member of Pakistan’s newly elected government, which is led by Imran Khan, a former cricket star who has embraced religious conservatism, offered prayers at Qadri’s shrine, generating an outcry from rights activists. Qadri’s supporters have openly called for the immediate death of anyone even accused of blasphemy.

An unprecedented number of religious parties participated in the July elections that put Khan in power. But as in previous elections they garnered less than 10 percent of the popular vote. Still they have allies among all the major parties. Yet one party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, won three provincial seats in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, by campaigning on a single issue — the finality of the Prophet Muhammad. They are ardent supporters of the harsh blasphemy law that prescribes death for anyone found guilty of insulting Islam.

According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 71 countries have blasphemy laws — around a quarter of them are in the Middle East and North Africa and around a fifth are European countries, though enforcement and punishment varies.

Pakistan is one of the most ferocious enforcers.

At least 1,472 people were charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2016, according to statistics collected by the Center for Social Justice, a Lahore-based group. Of those, 730 were Muslims, 501 were Ahmedis — a sect reviled by mainstream Muslims as heretical — while 205 were Christians and 26 were Hindus. The center said it didn’t know the religion of the final 10 because they were killed by vigilantes before they could get their day in court.

While Pakistan’s law carries the death penalty and offenders have been sentenced to death, so far no one has ever been executed.

Malook said an acquittal could generate countrywide protests and Bibi’s life. In the past persons charged with blasphemy but later freed have had to flee Pakistan for their safety.

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