The Story of Asia Bibi – World Day of Social Justice 2017

World Day of Social Justice

This week Jubilee Campaign is highlighting cases of religious persecution and discrimination in Pakistan in light of World Day of Social Justice on February 20th.

ASIA BIBI

On June 19, 2009, Asia Bibi (also known as Asia Noureen) was arrested on the grounds of blasphemy charges. Asia, a Christian mother of 5, lived with her husband in Chak No. 3 Itanwali village in the Nankana Sahib district in Punjab province. The Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, a partner of Jubilee located in Pakistan, reported that only 5 Christian families were living in this village among 2,000 Muslim families. The Christians in this village usually work in brick kilns or other low-wage jobs.

Asia worked as a fruit picker in a produce field as the only Christian. Asia reported that she often felt discriminated against by her Muslim co-workers, but that she ignored it. On June 14, 2009, Asia was involved in an argument with two Muslim female co-workers. Asia was asked to retrieve water from a well, and as she was doing so she went to use an old metal cup to take some water for herself. One of her co-workers saw her and angrily told Asia that Christians were prohibited from drinking water from utensils used by Muslims because Christians are “unclean”. Her co-workers then made additional derogatory remarks about Christianity. Asia purportedly responded by saying that Jesus died on the cross for her sins, what did their prophet do for them?

June 18, 2009, days after the argument, one of the Muslim women told their Islamic cleric about the incident. Word spread, and a Muslim mob gathered at the produce field where Asia worked and grabbed her. They began physically assaulting her and some family members. Fortunately, the police came in time to save Asia from the mob and she was taken to the police station.

It has been reported that the woman who accused Asia of blasphemy did so because of a family vendetta against Asia’s family. False blasphemy accusations are highly common in Pakistan, especially among religious minorities as a method of revenge.

In November 2010, Asia was found guilty of the blasphemy charges and sentenced to death. If executed, Asia would be the first woman executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. Many have spoken out on behalf of Asia’s innocence, including Pakistani politicians, however, not without consequences. asia bibi

On January 4, 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was shot 27 times by his own bodyguard. He was adamant about the country’s need to dissolve its blasphemy laws, and was in favor of a mercy petition for Asia.

Two months later, on March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian and Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, was assassinated by the Tehrik- i-Taliban for opposing the country’s blasphemy laws. He was riding in his car when it was sprayed with bullets. He was also an outspoken advocate for Asia. 

Asia’s case has been appealed, though the appeal was denied in 2014 by the Lahore High Court. In 2015 the Supreme Court stated that Asia’s death sentence would be suspended for the duration of its appeal process. Asia’s case has been postponed multiple times for various reasons. External pressure has been put on the courts, with Islamic leaders urging the courts to  hang all those accused of blasphemy, and threatening to kill those who attempt to aid those accused.

Though justice has not yet been brought to Asia, believers worldwide still pray for her freedom, including Jubilee Campaign. Efforts have been made in the U.S. to urge Pakistan to repeal their blasphemy laws. In June 2015, Congressman Joe Pitts and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee introduced H.Res. 290 “Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy laws.” The resolution calls on the President and State Department to make repealing blasphemy laws a priority topic when dealing with countries with such laws. It also urges for Pakistan to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern by the State Department. To learn more about the resolution, click here.

In honor of World Day of Social Justice, and on behalf of Asia Bibi and all the other victims of blasphemy, we urge you to contact your Representative and ask them to support H.Res. 290. Unsure who your representative is? Find out here!

Information regarding donations made to the North Korea Freedom Coalition

Dear Donors,

As many of you know, Jubilee Campaign serves as the treasurer for the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC). The coalition aims to make Human Rights the key policy of all governments in dealing with North Korea, and also to bring freedom, human rights, and dignity to the North Korean people. Your donations are essential to the work we do and the projects we support.

We were recently made aware that donations made through PayPal that are designated for the “North Korea Freedom Coalition” or “North Korea projects” are being flagged. Due to Government Regulations and Policies, PayPal is required to suspend transactions that have “North Korea” in the special instructions, notes, etc, until further investigation by PayPal. In order to make sure that there are not any issues with PayPal transactions, we ask for you to write “NKFC” or “NK” rather than “North Korea Freedom Coalition” or “North Korea” when making a donation through PayPal.

Thank you for your understanding! To learn more about the North Korean Freedom Coalition and what we do, visit the website by clicking here.

We’ve Raised $10,000 for Refugees!

Today we are thankful for God’s faithfulness. He has used you to bring in over $10,000 for needy refugees in Thailand. We would like to say a huge thank you for your generosity and support. Your donations are going toward providing food, housing, and education to families in Thailand who arrive with close to nothing and struggle to rebuild their lives.

We know that along with the financial contributions that have come in, there have been countless prayers lifted up on behalf of these refugees. Your prayers are just as important as the hands that will feed the refugees in Thailand. Thank you for faithfully taking part in this small but significant piece of God’s work.We ask that you continue to remember these refugees as you pray.

If you haven’t yet donated, it is not too late to help us reach our goal of raising $15,000. You can learn more about the fundraiser, read stories of refugees, and donate here.

Below is a video of one of the schools in Thailand that is helping refugee children receive education. Your support helps to give children opportunities such as this.

PRAYER REQUEST: Christian governor of Jakarta faces blasphemy charges

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Christian governor of Jakarta, Indonesia, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, will face blasphemy charges in court.

Governor Ahok, who is running for re-election, was named a suspect of blasphemy last week for remarks he made in a campaign speech on September 27. Governor Ahok had stated, “(You are) deceived (by people) using Al-Maidah 51.” The remarks, which alluded to a verse in the Quran, were made in response to push-back received from ultraconservative Muslims in the nation who believe a non-Muslim should not be able to hold a leadership office, and use this verse to support their view.

Massive protests have been held calling for the arrest of Governor Ahok, despite his public apologies stating he never meant to offend anyone. One protest resulted in the death of an individual.

Many are upset that it appears the police have made Ahok a suspect of blasphemy after falling to the pressures of demonstrators instead of the judging the situation through the lenses of the law. Indonesia remains caught between progressing into a nation that allows religious freedom and the pressures from hardliner Muslims to become a strict Islamic nation.

We celebrate the fact that Governor Ahok is the second Christian governor of Jakarta, following Henk Ngantung who was governor from 1964 until 1965. We hope to see more Christian leaders rise up in Indonesia.

Please pray that Governor Ahok will no longer be viewed as a suspect, and that the protests will cease. Pray for the nation of Indonesia, that blasphemy laws will be repealed and Christians will be able to live freely.

Cathedral Bombing in Cairo Leaves 25 Dead

 

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Coptic Christians attending Sunday mass were attacked by a suicide bomber at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, killing 25 and injuring dozens more. The attack has been one of the deadliest attacks Egypt’s Coptic Christians have faced in years.

The government has named 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa as the perpetrator of the incident. No group has claimed the attack, although authorities suspect the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamic State to be behind the deadly bombing.

St. Mark’s is important to the Coptic faith. Not only is it the seat of the Coptic Orthodox pope, Pope Tawadros II, but it is named after Saint Mark, Jesus’ apostle. Saint Mark is considered the founder of the Coptic faith. He traveled to Egypt in 50 A.D. Relics of Saint Mark’s life are held in a shrine within the cathedral.

The Egyptian population is comprised of approximately 10% Coptic Christians. This is one of the largest Christian groups in the Muslim-dominated Arab world. Copts in Egypt have looked to President Sisi to protect them from religiously-motivated violence, but are having doubts following Sunday’s bombings. Angry demonstrators have appeared outside of the cathedral, shouting insults at the Sisi administration.

Please pray for Egypt’s Coptic Christians as they fear persecution from Islamic extremists. Pray that the government will find and prosecute all those involved in the attack, and that measures will be taken to provide protection to the Christian minority. Pray that all our brothers and sisters in Christ in Egypt will be filled with peace by the Holy Spirit.