Shehzad Masih and his pregnant wife Shama Bibi were accused of “blasphemy” after local media reported that they had burned pages of the Quran and thrown and them in a rubbish bin. They were beaten a burned alive in a brick kiln Muslim village around 60 kilometres south-west of Lahore on 4 November 2014. Even if she had burned the pages, however, Shama was illiterate and so could not have known what she was burning.
Violent attacks against Christians in Pakistan have become disturbingly frequent. As well as attacks by angry mobs, Christians are also vulnerable to terrorist attacks, particularly in the north-western region, which borders Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s “blasphemy laws which carry a mandatory death sentence for “defiling the name of Muhammad’, are repeatedly exploited, often to settle a grudge or grab property. A simple accusation is enough to make the accused, and even an entire Christian community, vulnerable to extrajudicial murder as zealous Muslims take the law into their own hands. People ofall religions can be accused but Christians are especially vulnerable. Although no one has yet been executed, 14 people are currently on death row and a further 19 are serving life sentences for blasphemy charges. Many spend years languishing in prison waiting for their cases to be brought to trial.
Christians are a small minority of the population and are vulnerable to attack. Last year, 14-year-old Nauman Masih died after two Muslims doused him with kerosene and burnt him when he admitted to being a Christian. Christian women and girls are often kidnapped, raped and forced into marriage with a Muslim.
Many Christians in Pakistan are “bonded labourers”, which is almost like being enslaved. They cannot escape from exploitation by their employers because of debts incurred in times of great hardship, often several generations earlier.
Pray for dramatic changes to the country’s “blasphemy laws”, so that they cannot be misused to exploit poor Christians on false charges. Lift up in prayer Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been languishing in prison since 2009 after she was falsely accused of insulting the name of Muhammad and sentenced to death. Ask the Lord to protect vulnerable Christian women and girls from being kidnapped, forcibly converted to lslam and forced into Islamic marriages. Pray that those being held in unfair “bonded labour” will be enabled to free themselves.