Pakistani Christian Sentenced to Die Under Blasphemy Law
A Pakistani Christian was recently sentenced to death for blasphemy against Muhammad.
Pakistani Christians routinely have their property confiscated or destroyed, are imprisoned or sentenced to death on the basis of Pakistan’s blasphemy law which makes it a crime to say anything negative about Muhammad or the Quran.
I’m grateful for the freedom of speech in the United States we still have, where I am allowed to publicly say and preach that Muhammad is a false prophet and that the Quran comes from the devil.
However, Pakistani Christians cannot say such things without the very real risk of death or imprisonment.
And even if they don’t say them, it is easy for them to be prosecuted under the law on the basis of false witness. This can happen when people want to take their land or property, or it can happen simply because people resent the presence of Christians in Pakistan. No doubt in a country where Christians are a despised minority, their presence in the country itself is a walking affront to people who think that Pakistanis should be Muslim.
We are seeing this kind of resentment against Christians just beginning in the United States, although here we are not an affront to Muslims but to “tolerance”; the fact that there are still Christians who haven’t been shamed into agreeing that homosexuality is okay or at least being silent in public provokes more and more people. When pressure is ratcheted up and you don’t deny the faith, it just makes some folks madder, even if you say nothing, because even if you say nothing, the fact that you haven’t given in is a testimony to their condemnation. The fact that you suffer and don’t give in makes them feel even more threatened that maybe what you confess about God’s wrath and judgment is true. That’s what the New Testament is talking about in verses like these:
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:27-30)
4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:4-10)
At any rate, even though we can see the seeds of this resentment starting to sprout in the US, we still have lots of legal protection. In Pakistan the Christians have few advocates and almost no defense. If they’re hated just for existing, or someone covets their property, all they have to do is get a couple of people together to say that they heard this or that Christian say Muhammad is a fake prophet.
Here’s the latest example, from a Christian newspaper in Pakistan, although I think you can find this same story elsewhere on the internet. And I may also post a few other articles about similar cases. A year or so ago I posted about Asia Bibi, a mother of several children who has been imprisoned for something like five years now because of a false blasphemy charge. There is an update about her in this same newspaper.
|Christian man sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan|
|London: March 27, 2014; (PCP) On March 27, 2014 Additional session judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza sentenced Savan Masih to death after finding him guilty of blasphemy, and also ordered him to pay a fine of 200,000 Pakistani rupees. This is the punishment for someone found guilty of committing blasphemy against the prophet. CLAAS’s lawyers Naeem Shakir, Tahir Bashir and Nasir Anjum were present in the prison court room alongside Savan. The trial was conducted in prison as CLAAS-PK Director, Joseph Francis, keeping in view the situation, had expressed his apprehension that Savan’s life could be in danger, so he requested the case to be heard in jail for Savan’s safety. This is not the only blasphemy case where this has happened, there are other examples including the trial of Younis Masih. Several blasphemy law victims have been killed during their hearings, including Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel who were killed by extremists in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in the district court’s compound in Faisalabad, in 2010. Mr Francis has expressed his grief and disappointment over Savan Masih’s verdict as he was very optimistic and expecting an acquittal. He said discussions would begin immediately and that an appeal would be lodged on Saturday in the hope of getting the decision overturned soon. Savan Masih was convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad last March during a conversation with his Muslim friend. He was accused of blasphemy for allegedly saying “Jesus is true, he is the son of the God. He will come to save me while Muslims’ Prophet (PBUH) is fake”. Savan Masih denied the charges against him asserting that he had said nothing in respect of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and that false accusations were made against him because of a property dispute. Savan Masih has been in jail since his arrest in March last year. Savan stayed courageous as the verdict was read and remains strong in his faith, believing that the appeal will be successful as he has done nothing wrong. Meanwhile his family also remain strong in their faith and are hopeful that the decision will be overturned by the grace of God. After the accusation, the whole Christian town of St. Joseph colony- Badami Bagh, Lahore was torched by a Muslim mob and Christians had to flee. The police silently watched while the Muslim protestors stole valuable possessions and destroyed Christians’ homes. Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that blasphemy laws are being misused to settle person scores. He added: “Unfortunately the blasphemy law has become a powerful tool in the hands of extremists and is continually being used to attack churches, burn down Christian towns and villages and also kill innocent people.” He also said that this law has several flaws and is incompatible with human rights, prompting calls from the international community on several occasions to amend these laws. Mr Saeed concluded: “The government is under pressure from extremist groups and hesitates to bring this matter to the parliament.” He further stated that a week ago a Hindu temple and other properties in Larkana- Sindh were torched and a man was taken into police custody without any proof that he had burnt the Holy Quran. He has not yet been charged under the blasphemy law. Religious minorities, and particularly Christians, are living under constant fear of their lives and secretly migrating to different countries to save their lives. The international community has a responsibility to question the Pakistani government about the deteriorating situation of human rights and minorities in Pakistan.|