Murder of Governor in Pakistan Darkens ‘Blasphemy Case
The case of Asia Noreen, the first Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges, suffered a major setback when her most vocal supporter, the governor of Punjab Province, was gunned down by one of his police bodyguards this week (Jan. 4) in Islamabad.
The lives of Noreen and Gov. Salman Taseer were at risk since the day he, his wife and daughter visited her in jail on Nov. 22. Taseer had openly criticized the blasphemy statutes and vowed to try to repeal them in parliament. According to Compass News the bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, told police that he killed Taseer because of the governor’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Taseer’s support for Noreen had given new hope to the impoverished mother of two children and step-mother to three others. “The governor’s visit gave us hope that all was not lost,” Sohail Johnson of Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan told Compass. “We believed that God had sent the governor to help us … his words of support boosted Noreen’s morale, and she was actually quite optimistic about the outcome of her appeal in the high court.” Noreen’s appeal of her conviction had yet to be taken up for hearing by the Lahore High Court, but that the murder would definitely affect the course of justice. “The governor’s brutal murder has diminished our hopes for justice for Noreen.”
Father we lift up the families of Salman Taseer and Asia Noreen to You. Sooth their aching hearts, calm their fears, surround them with Your comfort and peace. Father, as we reflect on this tragedy we ask that You use this event for good, and pray that it brings into the global spotlight the unjust situation that Christians face in Pakistan -may this lead to a mighty revival of Your Word and Your son Jesus Christ in the nation of Pakistan.
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