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Attacks against Christians in Muslim Countries

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There has been a wave of violent attacks and persecution against Christians in Muslim countries during November 2010.

Pakistan

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian mother of five who has been jailed for nearly 15 months, has been convicted in a Pakistani court of breaking the country's controversial blasphemy law and sentenced to death.

Asia’s case started as nothing more than a trivial argument when a group of Muslim women refused to drink water made “unclean” by a Christian co-worker’s touch as they picked berries on a farm. This resulted in an argument which escalated into a deadly storm, as imams provoked an angry crowd accusing her of badmouthing Muhammad.

Despite the initial assurances of the governor of Punjab state Salman Taseer that Asia would be awarded clemency by the President of Pakistan, Muslims threatened protests and anarchy if the government pardoned her, issuing death threats to her supporters and calling hundreds of demonstrators onto the streets. On 29 November the Lahore High Court barred the President from pardoning her.

Campaigners say that it is the first time that a woman had been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. The law has been used as an instrument for terrorising the country’s religious minorities and has led to dozens of Christians being jailed each year.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, which monitors Christians’ treatment in Pakistan, said: “Asia's case has been high profile, but there are many more.” His organisation is following five similar cases where Christians have been accused of “blasphemy” in Pakistan.

Action

Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family. Please e-mail the Pakistani High Commissioner Wajid Shasul Hasan on ss2phc@yahoo.co.uk to demand that she be released.

You can join a protest in support of Asia Bibi on 4 December organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association - for further details please see here. A petition can be signed here.

Iraq

On 1 November 2010 the Islamist organisation ‘the Islamic State of Iraq’ committed a massacre at a Baghdad church that killed 58 and left at least 78 wounded Iraqi Christians. The attack has raised serious questions about the future of one of the oldest Christian congregations in the Middle East after the warnings by Islamic militants that more killings will follow. The Islamic group posted a statement on militant websites making clear their determination to kill more Christians.

“We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood. All Christian centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them,” the statement said.

Since the attack more Christians have been killed by extremists. Five more Christians lost their lives when gunmen attacked homes across the Iraqi capital.

On 22 November Islamic militants shot and killed two Christian brothers in Mosul, which is home to a sizable Christian population that has repeatedly come under attack from Muslim militant groups targeting Christian homes and neighbourhoods.

Iraq’s Christian community, which numbered 1.4 million in 2003, is estimated to have dwindled to 500,000 as many have left the country.

Afghanistan

Two Afghan men accused of converting to Christianity are also facing the death penalty after local television broadcast footage showed them reciting Christian prayers in Farsi and being baptised, apparently in a house in Kabul.

Several Afghan MPs have expressed their fury over the case, with one from western Herat even calling for the men to be dragged from their homes and publicly executed.

The last conversion case to be tried in Afghanistan is believed to be that of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan man arrested in 2006 for converting to Christianity. He was eventually released and granted refugee status in Italy, after a wave of international human-rights protests. The judge presiding in the case told The Times that converts to Christianity must be executed.

Algeria

On 28 November Algerian prosecutors asked the court to sentence four converts to Christianity to one year in jail each for opening a Protestant church close to the town of Larbaa Nath Irathen, without permission from the authorities.

Please pray for all of these Christians who are being persecuted around the world.

Sources

Guardian

Washington Post

CNN News

Daily Telegraph

Sydney Morning Herald

AFP News

Press TV

Huffington Post

Related sources

Christian Concern: Islamist organisation kills 58 Christians in Iraq.

Christian Concern: Christian community in Iraq consider mass exodus.

Christian Concern: Further attacks on Christians in Nigeria.

Christian Concern: BBC documentary highlights the challenges faced by Christian missionaries in Islamic countries.

Christian Concern: Unprecedented wave of assaults on churches in Malaysia over the word “Allah”.

Christian Concern: Women's prayer vigil for Maryam and Marzieh in Iranian prison.

Christian Concern: Imam blames Christian leaders for the persecution of Christians.

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