Prayers Urged for Asia Noreen (Bibi)
Pakistani Christian woman Asia Noreen (Bibi) is asking for our prayers particularly after a hard-line Islamic Imam declared late last week that anyone who kills Noreen will be paid $6,000 if the government doesn’t put her to death. According to Associated Press, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Shabaz Bhatti condemned the announcement of the reward for killing Noreen and stated, “every legal and constitutional means will be adopted” in her case.
Last month, Noreen was convicted of blasphemy and was the first woman sentenced to death by hanging, after being in prison since June 2009; an appeal is scheduled with a higher court later this month. It is possible she could be pardoned but that would likely trigger a huge Islamic extremist backlash. There are reports the Noreen case has already triggered threats on Christian churches, schools and hospitals by Islamic extremists. Christian relief centers set up for victims of the devastating Pakistani floods this summer have also been threatened.
The news of Asia Noreen’s conviction is drawing international attention at the same time that the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to vote on a resolution “Combating Defamation of Religions.” The resolution, sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Conference states (OIC), provides international legitimacy for legislation restricting the freedom of speech and religion for Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries, including the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Open Doors has been lobbying countries to vote against the resolution and has collected more than 425,000 signatures through its “Free to Believe” worldwide campaign from people who urged a “no” vote on the resolution. In the U.N.
Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, says while Christians worldwide need to continue to pray for the release of Noreen, the government of Pakistan needs to repeal the repressive law to prevent even more marginalization of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. “We continue to stand with Christians in Pakistan. We continue to help them face the incredible pressure – the almost unimaginable pressure – they are under every day; by spiritual means, by encouragement and through advocacy, speaking out on their behalf,” says Moeller.
Father, in the midst of pain and tragedy, we look to You. We fervently pray for Asia Noreen’s release and pardoning from the Pakistani court, so she might be re-united with her family and continue to serve You. Father, we also humbly pray that whether she continue to remain in prison, or is released, that through these trials many will come to know You.
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