Pakistan (MNN) – Recently we shared how Pakistan* is attempting to shut down Facebook in the country as it tries to reign in and censor blasphemy.
However, despite Pakistan’s efforts, other social media platforms are still available. But, Pakistan’s public has taken it upon itself to informally police it.
A Riot Against Blasphemy
A week ago today, an Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) journalism student, 23-year-old Mashal Khan, along with another student, were attacked by students on the university campus.
(Photo Courtesy FMI for MNN use.) Mosque Lahore in Pakistan.
“Hundreds to thousands of students participated in the riot. In fact, police were tipped off that this was going to occur and they had 20 officers on the site who stood by and did nothing,” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares.
These students, or rioters, accused Khan of allegedly posting blasphemous content on his social media accounts.
Blasphemy in Pakistan is loosely described as any thought/attitude which disagrees with the majority religion–Islam. For example, blasphemy is as simple as speaking against or dishonoring the prophet Muhammed. It can also be speaking against the Koran.
Blasphemy is also considered a capital offense in Pakistan. If someone is convicted of blasphemy, then they face the death penalty.
And unfortunately, the riot didn’t end until Khan had been shot and beaten to death. Following his death, an investigation was launched to determine whether or not these allegations of blasphemy were true. As it turns out, Khan was innocent.
A Larger Problem
Currently, it is unclear if Khan’s killer(s) will be made to answer for their actions. However, Khan’s tragic death puts a spotlight on a major problem in Pakistan regarding both censorship and the blasphemy law.
(Photo Courtesy FMI for MNN use.) Pastors’ seminar in Pakistan.
“Once an allegation of blasphemy is leveled against anyone—whether it’s another Muslim, whether is a Christian or someone else from a minority religion—their life is basically forfeit,” Allen explains.
“Whether they spend the rest of their life in jail, or, [their case] never even gets to trial because people try and seek their own form of justice and often it is so skewed.”
A widely known example of this is Asia Bibi. Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, has been living in prison since June 2009. Read more on her situation here.
Furthermore, no one seems to be exempt from the public enforcement of censorship and blasphemy accusations. Politicians who even mention changing the blasphemy law, or at the very least, re-examining it, are also met with hostility, attacks, and at times death.
Yet, Christians in Pakistan face a potential life of imprisonment or a death sentence every day. Their religious views alone, along with many other religious minorities, are enough to condemn them of blasphemy—and that’s before any evangelism. Every day Christians count the costs of following Jesus in Pakistan.
Will You Pray?
So please, will you support your Pakistani brothers and sisters in Christ through prayer? Continuously pray for their protection, encouragement, and faith. Pray also for these Christians to see God’s providence and his work in Pakistan.
And finally, pray for them to have the courage and bravery needed to share the Gospel.
Another way to support Pakistani Christians is by helping provide evangelism tools** by donating to FMI’s “Tangible Resources” fund.
To donate, click here!
For more ways to pray, click here!
*Pakistan is listed at number four on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe.
**The Snapshot tool helps Christians evangelize by helping jump-start conversations, encouraging Christians to listen to others and to build relationships through which the Gospel can be shared. Learn more about the tool here!