Recent terrorist activity has raised concerns about increasing sensitivity regarding Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law. And there have been claims that there are terrorists in Pakistan with the primary objective of killing Aasia Bibi. Aasia Bibi, probably the most well-known among Christians in Pakistan, has been in prison for almost seven years. She was convicted of blasphemy, a charge given to her after she offered a cup of water to a fellow female worker. The co-worker objected that the mere touch of a Christian made the water “haram,” or religiously forbidden for Muslims. Bibi was told to convert to Islam to become purified of her ritual impurity. Her refusal was seen as an insult to Islam; hence, her blasphemy charge. She remains on death row, but a request has been made to reopen her appeal, which has seen postponements for the past six months. If the courts follow through with executing her by hanging, she would be the first woman to be executed under the blasphemy laws.
On Good Friday, a group of terrorists was discovered, among them a young lady who has been arrested and questioned at length. She coldly shared her “testimony”—that she had been recruited via social media to join a group that would be going Syria. It is unclear whether she had returned from Syria recently. Her father is keen for the truth to be known; however, he is in shock at how his daughter, a medical student, has become indoctrinated and brainwashed. Nevertheless, it is clear she was in Lahore to carry out a suicide attack on a church, a fact she admitted into the camera without blinking an eye. Other terrorists were also arrested that day and one plot was uncovered. We give thanks to the Lord for keeping churches and believers safe from largescale devastation.
Shortly prior to this incident a young Muslim man in Mardan, Mashal Khan, was lynched by an angry mob when a rumor was circulated about him being a blasphemer. The horrific story has raised the profile of this law and the risks it poses.
Later in April, three women in burqas knocked at a door in Punjab state and asked to meet the women of the house. On admission into the house, they shot the man of the house dead. He had just returned to Pakistan after more than ten years in exile, having been accused of blasphemy. The women were teachers at a local Islamic seminary. They waited for the police to come and were willingly arrested.
In addition to these incidents, other cases have been reported and parents are sharing their grave fears regarding the risks their children face. “My child has a speech disorder,” said one father. “There are certain words he is unable to speak. I am afraid he may say something that is misconstrued as blasphemy. Every day there is news of a new victim of this vicious law. No one helps a Christian; the media only help Muslims, who will raise the profile of the threat to our children.”
Father, we pray for the nation of Pakistan today and for the church within her borders that is seeking to honor You and spread the light of the gospel. We pray for Asia, for her safety, that the plans of the terrorists will be thwarted and that her appeal will be granted. We pray for the judiciary, the legislature, and the governing authorities in this Islamic Republic as it grapples with the blasphemy laws. We pray for peace, that there will be no mobs and riots breaking out in the streets. And we pray for those with political influence who support religious freedom, that they will be protected and maintain a strong voice. And we pray for Christians, that You will protect them and their children and that they will have wisdom and clarity as they proclaim the gospel and seek to reflect the light of Christ amid great spiritual darkness. In the name of Jesus, who is the light of the world that shines in the darkness and will not be overcome. Amen.