The Plight of Asia Bibi and Pakistan’s 3 Million Christians.
by Nick Bishop
After the acquittal of Asia Bibi for alleged blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, furious demonstrators took to the streets in Pakistan. The country was in gridlock for 3 days as Muslim demonstrators and security forces clashed the length and breadth of the country.
Imran Khan, ex-cricketer turned Prime Minister, has given Mrs Bibi and her family sanctuary in Islamabad whilst they await asylum in the West.
Unfortunately, the UK has not given Mrs Bibi the promise of asylum but says it is keeping a close eye on the matter. For a nation with such a deep Christian heritage, not allowing Mrs Bibi to find asylum in the UK is wrong and shows its weakness in matters concerning the Christian faith. The government announced another reason for refusing Mrs Bibi entry into the UK, which was British embassies around the world might be attacked by the likes of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. The government is wary of stoking up tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in this country also.
A senior police officer in Pakistan has visited a large Christian community in Islamabad called France Colony. This is a major stronghold of Christians and the police officer advised the residents to close down their shops and businesses in the wake of Muslim violence. Another piece of advice forthcoming from the officer was for Christians to lay low and keep out of trouble. The major church in the area, a Presbyterian place of worship, has closed its doors for fear of attack. Younis Masih, 61, who was a former soldier in the Pakistani army said: “People are afraid and anything can happen in this situation”. Mr Masih described how the country’s 3 million Christians feel isolated and scared. There are no strong Christian leaders to protect or defend them in way, shape or form. In the UK, Christians think they have problems, but imagine being in Pakistan which is 96% Muslim.
When the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah, conceived of a separate state for Muslims independent of India, he declared all citizens of this new state, “May belong to any religion, caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state”. Seven decades on from the nation he founded with those words Pakistan has become more politically and religiously Islamic.
What can Christians in the west do about Asia Bibi and similar cases? We can lobby our MP’s, protest peacefully, lobby our churches to do more collectively regardless of denomination, and most importantly, pray.
God bless you x.
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