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Muslim lawyer on Asia Bibi: “I’ve never seen a stronger woman in my life”

Aasia Bibi with her children before blasphemy charges

(Voice of the Persecuted) Speaking at a church during a prayer service for Asia Bibi in the Netherlands, her lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook, described his last visit with her at the Multan women’s prison on Oct. 10th, 2018. Pakistan’s Supreme Court had just heard her death sentence appeal but the judges delayed the announcement of ruling in Bibi’s case. Saif-ul-Malook said he was amazed by her wonderful mood, how happy she was and that she showed no signs of depression. Asia shared with him about a dream she had two days earlier (Oct. 8th), the same day the court hearing was taking place.

She said,

“Sir, I saw in the dream that all the prison doors were opened and I worried the if the jail superintendent comes, then she’ll be very furious. Sir from my dream, I’m very, very certain that my appeal is going to be accepted and I’m going to be free. I have such a firm faith in God that I have strong feeling that nobody can hurt me.”

Then she told him not to worry for he too would be provided the same protection.

He announced at the church service, “I have never seen a stronger woman in my life, or read in any book story. Who is behind the bars for more than 9 nine years leaving behind two daughters, one [with mental disabilities] and still, to be so strong. I tell her many times, if I was in prison in your place, I could have broken in 6 months and might have decided to commit suicide.”

Mulook, who is also a Muslim, could also be called one of the bravest of Pakistani men. Prior to taking Asia’s case, Mulook’s was targeted when he was the special prosecutor in the high-profile murder case of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. The governor was shot and killed by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, in 2011. Qadri killed Taseer over his call for blasphemy law reform and his support of Asia Bibi. Islamists called Qadri a hero. Mulook was the only lawyer willing to prosecute the former police bodyguard who was convicted and sentenced to death by execution. Tens of thousands called for Bibi’s death when Qadri was sentenced, then again after his execution. Many were to fearful to take Asia as their client. When Mulook chose to defend her, other attorney’s told him, “You have hammered the last nail into your coffin”. His colleagues and even friends shunned him. “We don’t go out to meet relatives or friends. They don’t come here to meet us.”he told the AFP.

Already condemned when he successfully prosecuted Qadri, he thought it cowardly to give up on Asia. “I said to myself, look, you have already done the damage. It is time to stand up for this poor woman.”

Due to recent death threats, Saif-ul-Malook fled to the Netherlands. The Dutch Foreign Ministry made an official offer to him to join a special program for the human rights activists under pressure in their home countries. Reports claim the Pakistani attorney has not yet filed an asylum application to stay permanently in the country.

Asia and her family were taken to an undisclosed location and under the protection of police and Pakistan’s military. Multiple countries have offered asylum to Asia. However, her husband had requested for asylum in Canada, the U.K. or the USA.

Today, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed to the AFP that his government was in discussions with Pakistan about granting her asylum and bringing her to Canada.

“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” Trudeau said.

Canada’s opposition Conservative Party supports this decision and has urged Mr Trudeau to “use every mechanism at his disposal to offer the Bibi family asylum”.

It was a joy to hear this news as we prayed for Trudeau and his government on yesterday’s Prayer Conference Call event. We also prayed for the continuation of persecuted Christians to be granted asylum in the country. We’d like to recognize Canada for welcoming many of these Christians in the last decade, and to acknowledge the Canadian churches along with their members who have stepped up to sponsor these families. May the Lord continue to bless them.

Video of Saif-ul-Malook at prayer service shared on the social media service Facebook.

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Persecution of Christians Radiates Outward from Hub in Northern India, Sources Say

Christians who obtained bail after being jailed on Sept. 11 in Pratapgarh District, Uttar Pradesh on false charges of forcible conversion. Photo: Morning Star News

“Incidents of violence and hate targeting Christians have risen to a never-before level in Uttar Pradesh,”

(Morning Star News) – Attacks on Christians that began in one area of Uttar Pradesh in July have spiked and spread, instilling fear in congregations throughout the state, sources said.

After several attacks in Jaunpur District in July, by the end of October persecution of Christians had spread to 32 of Uttar Pradesh’s 75 districts, rights activist Dinanath Jaiswar told Morning Star News, with some of those districts seeing assaults earlier in the year.

“Jaunpur District has emerged as the epicenter of violence against the Christian community,” Jaiswar said. “The frequency and intensity of the incidents took us by surprise. There were days when at least two or three incidents would be reported from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, and we would struggle on how to provide help to hapless Christians.”

Many pastors went into hiding since July, though in many cases their congregations were able to keep meeting, and all of the church leaders have since returned home, sources said.

“Many a time we have had to divide our team or call more people, just so we could stand with the people who were being targeted and arbitrate with the authorities for their release,” Jaiswar said.

“There is a sense of fear in the atmosphere,” a Christian leader said. “Which church would be attacked, and when, is a constant threat in the hearts of the pastors of Uttar Pradesh.”

Persecution of Christians in Jaunpur District spread like wildfire to nearby districts, making Uttar Pradesh the state with the most violence against Christians since January, rights activists said.

“Incidents of violence and hate targeting Christians have risen to a never-before level in Uttar Pradesh,” said the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and national director of EFI’s Religious Liberty Commission. “Whereas there were 50 incidents that were documented in the state of Uttar Pradesh last year as a whole, this year till [the end of] October we have already documented 64 incidents.”

September and October were among the worst months for aggression against Christians in the state, he said. EFI-RLC recorded 28 cases in September and 16 in October in Uttar Pradesh.

Since January, violence has broken out against Christians in districts of Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Ghazipur, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Bareilly, Meerut, Agra, Lucknow, Mahoba, Mau, Pratapgarh, Varanasi, Kannauj, Pilibhit, Ghaziabad, Muzzafarnagar, Lakhimpur, Fatehpur, Raebareli, Sitapur, Meerut, Mirzapur, Hapur, Barabanki, Siddharth Nagar, Kanpur, Khushinagar, Gautam Budh Nagar and Kannauj, along with Jaunpur.

“It is a fact that the Christians living in the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh, are facing heightened fear of threat to their lives for practicing their faith,” said A.C. Michael, national coordinator of minority affairs for the All India Catholic Union (AICU).

Pastors were routinely taken into police custody based on false allegations of forceful religious conversion, he said.

“In one such case, on Sept. 13, a Christian who was leading a prayer meeting was beaten up and warned of severe consequences if he continued to pray,” Michael said. “Christians in Jaunpur are in great fear of being attacked and are not even conducting prayers in their own homes.”

Police deliberately approached pastors’ homes late at night to harass them and their families, said a source who requested anonymity.

“Picking up pastors and Christian leaders after midnight, keeping them in police custody for 24 hours, is a technique to mentally harass them and to instill fear in them,” the source told Morning Star News.

Attacks on Christians in India have risen from 150-plus in 2014 to more than 250 already in 2018, according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom.

“What should worry the Christian community, especially its leadership, is that out of three democratic pillars of India, both government and media are ignoring these seemingly systematic attacks on Christians,” an ADF press statement reads.

The third pillar, the judiciary, has more than 200 cases of false allegations of forcible conversion pending in various courts of India, including the Supreme Court, it adds.

Epicenter

The Hindu extremist targeting of churches started from the Bhulandih village, Jaunpur District, where pastor Durga Prasad Yadav leads the Jeevan Jyoti Satsang Prarthana Kendra (Light of Life Fellowship Prayer Centre).

Police also targeted Pastor Yadav, summoning and beating him in June. Between 7,000 to 8,000 people regularly attend his church services, according to reports.

On July 20, news portal jantakiawaz.org reported in Hindi that 95 percent of households in a Jaunpur village had become Christian. A subtitle read, “Christian missionaries running their campaign quietly but effectively. Conversions happening in the name of prayer…”

The portal updated the content the next day, and national Hindi newspaper Dainik Jaagran and other portals carried the same news.

On Aug. 3, an Additional Civil Judge in Pancham ordered registration of a complaint against Pastor Yadav and 270 other Christians. For Sunday services on Aug. 5, police provided protection from Hindu threats on his church at the pastor’s request.

Police on Sept. 5 registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Pastor Yadav and the 270 others based on the complaint by attorney Brijesh Singh. Christian leaders said that the police started to visit many area churches, questioning pastors, other Christians and whoever they could find on church premises.

Sources indicated that police began the harassment only after state officials became involved. Superiors at the Chandwak police station even removed a police officer, Shashi Chandra Chaudhry, from the Bhulandih village case for failing to act against Pastor Yadav and other Christians, according to local news outlets.

Meantime, news channels led by Zee TV created a furor with nearly 24-hour reporting on alleged forcible conversions in the Jaunpur area on Sept. 10-11. Christian leaders have slammed the coverage by Zee TV as inflammatory.

Between Sept. 11 and the end of the month, police arrested and detained many pastors, disrupted worship services and told people to go home and not attend anymore.

At the same time, Hindu extremists were targeting churches throughout the region, disrupting services and attacking Christians not only in Jaunpur but also other districts in Uttar Pradesh. Many pastors began to go into hiding.

Police Prohibit Services, Attendance

There are at least 10 megachurches in Jaunpur District alone, with about 25,000 people attending worship services, sources said.

“About six megachurches that were targeted by the police in Jaunpur are permanently closed since the initial attack,” rights activist Jaiswar said. “They have been asked to obtain permission from the district magistrate or High Court to resume church services.”

Pastors who had been in hiding since the attacks in September have all returned home, he said.

The largest megachurch, with 7,000 members, is that of Pastor Durga Prasad Yadav in Bhulandih village, Jaunpur, which has been shut down.

“I have not conducted church for two months now,” Pastor Yadav said. “Police are guarding our worship places morning and evening to stop any believer from coming to church. The situation here is very tense.”

Police issued an arrest warrant against Pastor Yadav, but he secured a stay order against it from the High Court on Oct. 10. He said he is desperately waiting for justice and permission for his church to resume services.

Hindu extremists on Sept. 23 attacked pastor Ashok Rajbhar, who leads a church of about 2,000 members in Nevadiya village, Jaunpur District. Though police have not registered a case against him, officers stopped worshippers from reaching church services on four consecutive Sundays, sources said.

For the next two Sundays, police arrested and locked up Pastor Rajbhar and his father to keep them from leading services, they said. His church is completely shut down.

Police on Sept. 24 arrested pastor Nanhe Lal of Jaunpur. Though they did not register a case against him, officers obtained a pledge in writing from him that he would not lead services until he obtains permission from the district magistrate or High Court.

Police secured the same pledge in writing from Pastor Ram Asre of Badlapur, Jaunpur District, threatening to arrest him if he led worship for his 1,000-member church. Pastor Ram Bachan received several threats before police booked him under various charges alleging forceful conversion. He obtained bail on Oct. 30, but his 500-member church has shut down.

Police also have registered a case against pastor Ram Kumar of Pratapgarh District on various charges. He has filed for a stay against the FIR in the Lucknow High Court, but his church has closed.

After these churches were forced to shut down, the members began meeting in small groups in their homes. Sources said police patrolled outside their homes and stopped them from meeting.

Christian leaders said that all churches in Uttar Pradesh are stricken with fear from reports every day of attacks on churches.

“The Christian community in Uttar Pradesh is under duress, and there is a sense of fear in the atmosphere,” a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh told Morning Star News. “Which church would be attacked, and when, is a constant threat in the hearts of the pastors of Uttar Pradesh.”

ADF notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is sadly ironic that Christians are persecuted in India, a country with a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion.

Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

This Sunday! Prayer Conference Call Event for IDOP 2018

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Our second IDOP 2018 Prayer Conference call is scheduled on Sunday, November 11, 2018. Mark your calendars. View call information, call in number, access code and free app details at this link.

Meet you on the call!

 

Gov. official: ‘Asia Bibi’s name can’t be placed on ECL’ moved for safety

Asia Bibi was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and her case is one of the most controversial globally.

After Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi on Oct 30, mass protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) halted life in four major cities as the mobs blocked off roads and damaged property. The protests finally ended after three days when the hardliners reached an agreement with the government. One of the conditions was that Asia’s name placed on the Exit Control List (ECL). Persons on the list are prohibited from leaving Pakistan. The government agreed to initiate the legal process to place Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said in an interview with Voice of America,

“Unless a person is declared guilty, there is no legal ground ─ how can his or her name be placed on the ECL?” he asked. “There is no question regarding this.”

“Every Pakistani, regardless of his creed or religion, is the state’s responsibility. No one in Pakistan can be given a license to play with someone’s life or property in order to get their terms accepted.”

Afridi said she is still in the country and Asia and her family are being provided security by the government. Pakistani official sources requesting anonymity claim she has been moved from the prison, put on a plane for security purposes and taken to an undisclosed place in the nation’s capital.

Her lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said he received news that she has been freed.”I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land.,” he shared in a message to the AFP.

Italy said it’s helping Asia and her family to leave Pakistan and working behind the scenes with other nations to ensure her safety.

“I want women and children whose lives are at risk to be able to have a secure future, in our country or in other Western countries, so I will do everything humanly possible to guarantee that (for Bibi),” Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said.

“It is not permissible that in 2018 someone can risk losing their life for a … hypothesis of blasphemy,” he said.

Yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party called for Germany to grant Bibi refuge.

Please keep praying for Asia and her family.

 

 

Thai immigration separate Christian families moving mothers and children to another facility

(Voice of the Persecuted) by VOP Thai correspondent—Pakistani Christian women and young children have been moved from the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) in Suan Phlu to another detention camp near Don Mueang airport on the outer suburbs of Bangkok.

The women and children were moved on Friday, November 2nd 2018 about 30 km away from the initial detention center.

Not only deprived of liberty and abode but denied the basic and decent life, every human being deserves. Inhumane treatment of Pakistani Christians in Thailand is a huge question mark towards the UN and other aid agencies.

Earlier this month, all bails were cancelled except women with minors. Majority of the bails were granted in 2015 with the condition that bailed individuals would report every two weeks to the IDC with their guarantor.  Now with essentially all bails cancelled, the numbers inside the IDC have soared.

There are no reports about the condition in the new detention camp but this move has robbed them of the opportunity of seeing their loved ones during daily visits.

Daily visitation from individuals and charities gives the families some time to meet their loved ones who are held in separate areas. This is also the only time when detainees are allowed to get out of the shady and horrendous room which they share with more than 200 people.

During visiting hours, visitors submit an application to meet with one detainee and are given one hour in a hall separated by a metal fence while  shouting to hear one another over other voices. The meeting area provides an opportunity to fathers, sons, husbands to meet their children, mother and wives during that hour.

Family day, which was scheduled once a month, also provided time for to families to meet and cherish some memories. Men and women are kept in separate areas in the facility.

We’re not denying that lowering the numbers in one facility would improve the environment of an already horrific place at normal capacity. However, with the women and children in another detention center, the hope of seeing their loved ones seems very bleak.

What is the Immigration Detention Center?

The main Immigration Detention Center is a small, two story building in the heart of Bangkok’s embassy district. The rooms are designed to hold overstayed migrants in small rooms. Refugees, though internationally protected, are considered illegal under Thai law,  arrested and incarcerated in the detention center for an indefinite period of time.

Pakistani Christians in Thailand have been deeply traumatized by the Thai Immigration crackdown on illegal migrants. In one of the largest overhaul of migrants, refugees had to flee for their freedom, essentially their lives, as living in IDC is described as hell. Many had to seek shelter with their friends, locals and expats, to try to escape the wrath of the Immigration police.

Pakistani Christians need your prayers. Pray for their safety, security and safe resettlement to countries where they can live and practice their faith in Christ freely and call it home.

Project 133 relief mission

Please pray for them to remain steadfast in holding onto their faith. VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus.  Please consider helping our mission to cover these expenses and donate, today. Nutritional items, baby milk and diapers will be high on the list of needs. We may not be able to cover all expenses, but let us cover as many as we can! Your donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission and are gratefully appreciated by our persecuted family. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Egypt: Funeral held for Coptic Christians targeted in attack

On Nov. 2, 2018 seven Coptic Christians were killed and others injured after an attack on buses which has been claimed by ISIS on Friday. During funerals that took place on Saturday, mourners expressed grief and outrage that they’re not better protected by the government of Egypt. President Sisi sent condolences to the families and promised an investigation into the attack.

On Nov. 4, Egypt says police killed 19 jihadist suspects linked to Copt attack. see report

Coptic Christians are Egyptian Christians – the word Coptic literally translates to Egyptian. They originated in the city of Alexandria during the Apostolic period. The Coptic Church was established by the Apostle Mark during the middle of the 1st century (c. 42 AD). The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is based in Egypt,. Copts have suffered severe persecution and death for generations due to their beliefs. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, They’ve have suffered increased religion-based discrimination and violence. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

 

 

 

Reminder: IDOP Prayer Conference Calls on Nov. 4th & Nov. 11th 3-10p.m. EST)

Special Event (Voice of the Persecuted) This first and second Sundays in November have been designated as the International Day of Prayer  for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Tomorrow, global prayers will be going up for our persecuted brothers and sisters uniting with many living in restricted nations who suffer in the shadow of the cross
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The number one and often only request of our persecuted family is, “Pray for us!” How will we respond?
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The Apostle Paul shared, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34)  Jesus is also interceding for those who lay down their lives for his sake.  Will we join him in prayerful intercession and answer the requests of our persecuted brothers and sisters?
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Persecution Watch, in partnership with Voice of the Persecuted, will host a seven-hour prayer call tomorrow afternoon beginning at 3p.m. (EST). We will also host another IDOP call next Sunday. Hear their cries and don’t remain silent. Join us, prayer changes everything!
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Please share the event invitation with your churches, pastors, prayer groups, family and friends, and all others who will pray.
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Please view the Call Event details and download the flyer at this link. You will also find international call number and free call app at the link.

Video: Radicals protest Asia Bibi’s release, Pakistani Christians request our prayers

(Voice of the Persecuted) On Wednesday, protests by the radical group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) against the acquittal of the blasphemy sentence against Asia Bibi has paralyzed daily life in various cities throughout the country. Major cities such as Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, among others have all been affected. Protesters have forced people to close schools, shops and businesses. They blocked roads causing massive traffic jams, even flights have been delayed as passengers are finding it difficult to reach airports. The Punjab Safe Cities Authority reported protests were being carried out at 25 different locations, effectively blocking roads with intent to shut down traffic across the city. Security is also heightened in areas populated by Christians and for churches as well.

The TLP is now calling for the murder of the Supreme Court judges, mutiny within Army against General Qamar Bajwa, an Ahmadi, and an end to Imran Khan’s government.The government sent the Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Noorul Haq Qadri and Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan to Lahore for the purpose of negotiating with Khadim Rizvi to end his protest.

Pray for the courage and safety of our Pakistani brothers and sisters. For the sake of all, that peace prevails in the country.

We ask that you also pray for those who persecute us, They do not know the Lord and the amazing love He’s offering them. Pray their chains will be broken, for revelation, repentance, that they will be found in Christ to receive the gift of salvation. In the holy name of Jesus Christ, let us pray.

As we rejoice and give thanks to the Lord with our sister, let us pray for her as she adjusts to life united with her family in a new country. We also would like to recognize the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, (ACN) grateful for the support they are and have given her family throughout their suffering. Asia and her family are members of the Catholic church.

Quote from the video below: “We have a great God and He answers prayers.”

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HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

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