Mother Acquitted of Charges in Pakistan

“A judge has cleared a young mother of blasphemy charges in a major victory for persecuted Christians in Pakistan.

Mother of three Rubina Bibi, 25, was accused of defaming the Prophet Muhammad by a Muslim shopkeeper in Alipur Chattah, Gujranwala district, in March. She was arrested days later and imprisoned along with her youngest son.

She faced the death penalty if found guilty but session judge Mohammad Asghar Khan cleared her of wrongdoing during a lengthy hearing on Wednesday, where she was represented by Christian lawyers Joseph Francis and Tahir Bashir Gull.

The case was brought before the session judge after the lower district judge came under pressure from extremist groups and security at the hearing was tight following the recent murder of two Christian brothers outside a Faisalabad courthouse. Pastors Emmanuel and Sajid Masih, both accused of committing blasphemy, had just left a hearing when they were shot dead by masked gunmen, despite being under police escort.

Rubina was released from prison with her son on Thursday. She is the third person in Alipur Chattah to be accused of blasphemy. In 1999, Hussain Masih and his son Isaac were arrested for blasphemy. The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement represented them during their trial and the charges were eventually overturned by a judge.” – “Judge Acquits Young Mother Charged with Blasphemy in Pakistan”, Christian Today

This post is from Christian Today, and it made me very glad to hear this news. Christians have been suffering in Pakistan for quite some time now. The level of religious tolerance there is extraordinarily low and Christians have been taking a lot of heat in recent months. Murders have taken place recently and this story almost veered down the same unjust path. I was glad to read about this mother being acquitted of the ridiculous charges she was being pressed with.

Christians Lend Helping Hand in Pakistan

This post on Christian Today was good news from a bad situation. I had no idea of the terrible floods Pakistan is enduring right now, but I am glad to see the first group giving a helping hand be Christian. Hopefully they are able to help out all of those in need. Please keep all those affected by this disaster in your prayers over the next few days.

“Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal to assist those affected by the devastating flooding in Pakistan.

The international development agency said urgent humanitarian aid was needed for millions who are in dire need of water, food and shelter.

“Pakistan is facing a humanitarian crisis,” said Robin Greenwood, Christian Aid’s head of Asia and Middle East division.

“Thousands of people are still waiting to receive assistance. It is crucial to get humanitarian aid to the people and the places that need it most.”

At least 1,500 people have been killed and 3.2 million affected in the worst floods witnessed in several decades.

Christian relief organisations Tearfund, Church World Service (CWS), Norwegian Church Aid and the German agency Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe have been distributing food packets and temporary shelter kits in the affected areas.

CWS Pakistan team members report an increasing need for assistance and say blocked roadways and communications continue to hamper aid workers from reaching cut-off survivors with vital food and supplies.

Reporting from Sibbi, Balochistan, CWS Pakistan Senior Project Officer Saleem Dominic, said, “Food is the initial, immediate need, with hygiene and shelter next. Houses are completely destroyed and flood water remains in the houses, which poses health risks.”

CWS is the first organisation to distribute food in Sibbi. Dominic said flood survivors were “very grateful” for the help.” – “Christian Aid Launches Emergency Appeal for Pakistan Floods”, Christian Today

One Year Anniversary of Attacks on Christians in Pakistan

“Over 2,000 people took part in a march in Pakistan to mark the first anniversary of some of the country’s worst anti-Christian violence. A leading police official admitted to marchers that security forces had failed to protect Christians, while some prominent Muslim leaders said they deplored the violence.

In August 2009 a mob of several thousand Muslims looted and burned a Christian neighborhood in Gojra city in Punjab province. Eight people died in the violence.

Some of the most prominent local Muslims addressed the marchers, describing the perpetrators as unworthy of being called Muslims. They denounced the crimes as being against the precepts of the Koran.

Bishop of Faisalabad Joseph Coutts presided at the memorial Mass on Sunday at Gojra’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church, ACN News reports. The bishop lit candles for each of those who died in the violence.

Victims included seven-year-old Musa Almas, his ten-year-old sister Umia, and five other members of their family.

The 2009 mob attacks reportedly took place in reaction to a rumor that the Koran was desecrated in a nearby village. The desecration was alleged to have taken place when children cut up pages from an old school book to use as wedding confetti. The school book supposedly contained verses from the Koran.” – “On Anniversary of Anti-Christian Attacks, Thousands March in Pakistan”, EWTN

This post from EWTN.com caught my attention because I had never even heard of the incident they were marching for to begin with. The August 2009 attack that placed Muslims against Christians was appalling to hear about. I am glad to see that even Muslims are trying to tell us that these individuals who sparked this event are not welcome as their own. Those who lost their lives in the 2009 attack should be kept in our prayers, and I am glad to see that people are remembering their tragic deaths a year later.

Christians Shot in Pakistan

I found this post on Christian Today this morning. It was deeply saddening to see this news story, and I encourage you all to pray for the families of these two men who lost their lives.

“Two Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan were killed as they left a courthouse Monday afternoon, reports a Christian persecution watchdog group shortly after the incident.

Police were transporting Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, from the court in Faisalabad to jail when masked gunmen opened fire, killing the two Christians and seriously wounding a policeman accompanying them before getting away, reported Washington-based International Christian Concern.

The brothers had been arrested on July 2 after being accused of writing a pamphlet with blasphemous remarks about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad – a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.” – “Masked Gunmen Shoots Down Two Pastors in Pakistan”, Christian Today

This was some extremely sad news indeed. Apparently it is uncertain whether the men accused of these blasphemous statements about Muhammed actually made the statements at all. The are rumors circulating that the men were falsely accused of these crimes so they could be taken to court. It does make sense, after all if these two men distributed a pamphlet that ridiculed Muhammed, which is a known crime in Pakistan, I’m pretty sure they would not have let any information get into it that could trace the pamphlets back to them. Either way these men’s families deserve our prayers in this time of devastating sadness they must be enduring.

Pope Benedict Will Talk About Religion and Freedom

“Benedict XVI will address religious freedom in his main message to the world political community. The pope will denounce that in some parts of the world religious freedom does not exist and many people are marginalized, persecuted and punished because of their faith.

China is the main example. Despite the Constitution allowing the practice of five religions, they persecute and arrest those who do not follow the government’s orders in matters of faith. Currently 10 priests and two bishops are incarcerated in this country just for being Catholics.

In Pakistan religious minorities, like Christians, are harshly persecuted through the law of anti- blasphemy. This law regulates offenses against Muhammad and the Koran and punishes those who do not comply with penalties reaching life in prison or death. On numerous occasions this law has been used to punish residents who profess another religion.

In India, the most extremist of Hinduism combat religions that come from the outside such as Christianity. In Europe there is also a lack of religious freedom. In the UK the government prohibits religious manifestations in public, such as carrying the cross and Catholics cannot join the royal family.” – “Pope Will Address Religious Freedom in the World Day of Peace”, Rome Reports

This post interested me for two reasons. First, I am glad to see that the Pope will be addressing religious tolerance. This is something that I think Catholics could really learn a lesson in as well as others. This article tends to concentrate more on discrimination against Catholics and Christians, but it doesn’t get into how Catholics and Christians can be intolerant of other people’s lifestyles. I think the Pope is touching on a subject that can really apply to anybody, who follows any religion anywhere. The second reason this interested me is because I did not know of the struggles Christians are facing in India, Pakistan, and China. Even in England there is prejudice against Catholics. Everybody in the world should really just learn to keep to their faith to themselves. If another person does not believe that same things as you, that is not something that should cause you to hold hatred for them. You should be mature enough to accept that you have differences with them, and that they are free to make their own decisions.