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Struggle for Recognition, Meet Humanitarian Needs

Pakistan, the second most populous Muslim-majority country in the world, is not the most hospitable place for Christians. The country was, for many years, one of the main sponsors of a resolution going through the rounds in the United Nations that would, in effect, make blasphemy laws global. The resolution, which eventually stalled in the UN due to increasing opposition, was strongly condemned by the Baptist World Alliance and other Christian organizations. The BWA in a released statement said that the “Combating Defamation of Religions” resolution “is incompatible with the fundamental freedoms of individuals to freely exercise and peacefully express their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.” The BWA feared that the resolution would “amount to an international blasphemy law, similar to those existing in many Muslim countries.” These laws, the international Baptist organization contends, “are used to silence dissident discourses, to incarcerate political activists and journalists, and thus directly affect the religious freedom rights of non-Muslim minorities in those countries.”

Pakistan has some of the strictest blasphemy laws among countries with a Muslim-majority population. It has been alleged that these blasphemy laws have been used by individuals and Samuel Ahsan, executive director of Save & Serve For Christ Ministries in Pakistan

(Photos courtesy of Save & Serve For Christ Ministries) The Untold Story of

Sonia was just 15 years old when her parents were arrested for blasphemy. She was at home when an angry mob of Muslims, including clerics armed with guns, sticks and axes, attacked Sonia’s parents, whom they tortured and handed over to the police to be charged with blasphemy. “It was terrible and unexpected. I could not believe that someone can be so harsh and merciless. They beat my father and my mother ruthlessly in front of my eyes… I cannot forget that moment,” Sonia said. Sonia’s father, Munir Masih, and her mother, Ruqiya Bibi, were accused of desecrating Muslims’ Holy Book, By Samuel Ahsan

Sonia’s mother is serving life imprisonment in Punjab under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. It is internationally known that blasphemy laws are controversial in Pakistan because they are abused. National rights organizations, and international civil

22 BAPTIST WORLD MAGAZINE human societies and peacemakers are concerned about religious persecution due to blasphemy laws. Various governments, political and religious leaders are urging the Pakistani government to repeal the blasphemy laws to save innocent peoples’ lives.

Many blasphemy cases remain hidden. the Quran. They were both charged and were arrested under blasphemy laws on December 8, 2008, and faced trial in the Court of Sessions. On March 2, 2010, the law court sentenced both Ruqiya and Munir to 25 years in prison. Sonia’s father was released on bail on December 9, 2010, while Ruqiya is still in prison. Sonia’s grandmother took Munir and Ruqiya’s six children, including Sonia, to another place to save their lives as the groups to settle personal scores or to gain personal, business, property or commercial advantage. Over the past year, three high profile cases highlighted Pakistan’s lack of religious tolerance. The first was that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted in November 2010 of blasphemy by a Pakistan Court and sentenced to death by hanging. Though the penalty has not been carried out, the conviction against Bibi still stands and she remains incarcerated. In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, died after he was shot by one of his bodyguards

Baptists in


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