Pakistan works to stop Asia Bibi leaving after blasphemy protests

“Pakistan’s government has been accused of signing the ‘death warrant’ of Asia Bibi after it said it would begin the process of preventing her leaving the country.

Bibi, a Christian farm labourer, was acquitted of blasphemy on Wednesday. She had spent eight years on death row after she drank from the same cup as a Muslim, prompting false allegations that she insulted the prophet Muhammad.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration signed an agreement with the anti-blasphemy group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Friday night, giving in to many of its demands in the face of massive, countrywide protests calling for Bibi to be put to death. …”

– News from The Guardian.

See also: Government, TLP reach agreement, state to ‘take measures’ to place Asia on ECL: reports – DAWN News, Pakistan.

“The government and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have reached an agreement to conclude the latter’s nationwide protests, *DawnNewsTV* has reported, with the government promising to immediately initiate the legal process to place Asia Bibi’s name on the exit control list (ECL).”

A cause for much continued prayer.

Update: from BBC News

“Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry … clarified that the decision on whether or not to bar Asia Bibi from leaving the country would be made by a court, and added the government would ‘take all steps necessary’ to ensure Asia Bibi’s safety.”

‘These 7 points explain the Supreme Court’s decision to free Asia Bibi’

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued its much-anticipated judgement in the ‘Asia Bibi v. The State, etc’ case, reversing earlier judgments handed down by the Lahore High Court as well as a trial court and thereby overturning the conviction of Asia Bibi in the blasphemy case against her.

The three-judge bench subsequently ordered the 50-something mother-of-four’s immediate release from jail, where she had been languishing for 9-odd years.

The Supreme Court’s judgement — a seismic event in the country’s history, judicial or otherwise — heavily references Islamic teachings and tradition, but ultimately relies on an assessment of facts and evidence to support the overturning of the earlier conviction.

Below are a few of the key points shared in the judgment. …”

– This story from DAWN News, Pakistan. And a reminder to pray for Asia Bibi, her family, and the situation in Pakistan.

Photo courtesy Barnabas Fund.

Asia Bibi to be freed after conviction is set aside

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges after accepting her 2015 appeal against her sentence. …”

– News from DAWN News, Pakistan.

Protests have begun across Pakistan.

See also: Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturns Aasia Bibi’s conviction – Barnabas Fund.

No Christians at all among 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK this year

“In response to a Freedom of Information request from Barnabas Fund, the UK Home Office have just released figures on Syrian refugees resettled in the UK for the first quarter of this year (1 January–31 March 2018). Appalling as previous figures were, these are much worse. …”

– From Barnabas Fund.

Church flees into exile

“An entire Diocese of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan is operating from Northern Uganda after being forced to flee from civil unrest, leaving the main centre, Kajo-Keji, a ghost town.

The diocese was home to hundreds of thousands of Sudanese, including 280,000 Anglicans. As long-standing partners of the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid, operations and project manager Eddie Ozols flew to Uganda last month to investigate further ways of helping a church plunged into exile in makeshift refugee camps. …”

A heartbreaking story from SydneyAnglicans.net.

Related: Anglican Aid.

Compassion: Why we’re leaving India, but still have hope

“In two weeks, Compassion International will be out of India.

The child development ministry confirmed … that after 48 years, its final day of operation will be March 15.

That means shutting the doors of 589 Indian-staffed development centers caring for more than 145,000 children, more than any other of the 25 countries where it works. …”

Christianity Today has this background.

Image: Compassion Australia CEO Tim Hanna explains the situation.

‘Worship in the woods’

acehChurches destroyed a year ago by Islamic extremists and police in Aceh Singkil – a rural ‘regency’ in Indonesia’s only Sharia-ruled province – have still not been rebuilt because of discrimination against Christians by local authorities, say church leaders. However, despite the troubles, church membership is climbing. …”

– This report from World Watch Monitor.

(By complete contrast: Nature’s dome is Church of the Wood’s only chapel, Episcopal News Service.)

Asia Bibi’s appeal delayed

Aasia Bibi - photo via Diocese of MelbourneAfter more than seven years in prison, the first Pakistani Christian woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy has had her Supreme Court appeal delayed, amidst renewed Islamist calls for her to die. …”

– News from World Watch Monitor.
Photo: Barnabas Fund.

Former GAFCON Chairman urges South Sudanese leaders to preserve life

apb-wabukala-acnaThe retired Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya and former GAFCON Chairman, together with leaders of All Africa Conference of Churches to South Sudan has urged the political leaders of South Sudan to preserve lives of citizens instead of struggling for power and wealth in the country. ”

Report via GAFCON.

Rome Scholars Network meets to discuss Evangelical — Catholic Relations

Rome Scholars Network meeting, Rome, July 2016The morning of Friday 1 July brought to a close the inaugural edition of the Rome Scholars Network (RSN) held in Rome. Under the leadership of the Italian lecturer and pastor, Dr. Leonardo De Chirico, the Network brought together Protestant scholars and ministers from across Europe, the United States and Australia who discussed Evangelicalism’s increasingly incoherent relationship with Roman Catholicism in today’s ecumenical climate. …

‘Given that the fifth centenary of the Reformation is just around the corner, the message coming from many Catholic quarters and some Evangelical leaders is that the Reformation is over. We at RSN do not agree. The Reformation is as relevant as ever since the Gospel and the five solas are as relevant as ever. Roman Catholicism is employing a strategy of absorption in order to swallow up Evangelicals. In spite of its friendly tone from Vatican II onwards, Rome has not changed a bit in its fundamental structure‘…”

Report from Evangelical Focus. (Sydney’s Mark Gilbert was a part of the meeting.) 

‘Russian government introduces draconian Soviet era restrictions on religious freedom’

kremlinLast Friday two members of the Russian Duma (parliament) introduced a series of amendments to anti-terrorist legislation that would require individuals to gain prior state authorisation before even discussing their faith with someone else. …

It now goes to Russian President Vladimir Putin who has until July 20th to decide whether the bill will become law. The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith – even a casual conversation – to have prior authorisation from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church…”

– Concerning news via Barnabas Fund.

‘In Pakistan, Taliban’s Easter bombing targets, kills scores of Christians’

pakistan“On Easter Sunday, a crisp spring day, some of the city’s Christian population mingled with their Muslim neighbors, celebrating in a neighborhood park — taking their kids on rides or pushing them on swings. Then, the sound of tragedy.

Without warning, a blast tore through the park, killing indiscriminately.

Because of the innocent setting, an unusually high number of those injured were women and children. But the attack, claimed by a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, intentionally targeted Christians, the perpetrators say…”

– This report from CNN.

See also:

Suicide blast kills at least 72 in Lahore parkThe Express Tribune, Karachi.

Lahore blast leaves behind playground buried with hopes and dreamsGeo TV Pakistan.

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