Pakistan (MNN) — Our newest update on Ahmed’s blasphemy case brings somber news. Last Friday, Ahmed’s lawyer, Rizvam, was attacked by the prosecuting attorney.
A Brawl in Court
“The prosecuting attorney didn’t just make verbal statements against what the defense attorney was saying, he actually came to blows against the defense attorney,” FMI’s Bruce Allen reports.
(Photo courtesy of FMI via Facebook)
“He beat him in the courtroom so much so that other lawyers present had to break up the fight and Rizvam had to go to the hospital. His left eye was severely injured, as was his nose. He has not lost vision in the eye, but he has lost use of it temporarily. His eyes are still under wraps.”
Rizvam has since been released from the hospital. This situation isn’t uncommon in Pakistani courtrooms. In fact, some situations have become so extreme that people have been murdered in the very court where justice was supposed to be sought.
And when Rizvam was attacked, the judge hearing the blasphemy case turned a blind eye and walked out of the courtroom. When the judge did this, Allen says it was a way of giving silent consent for the attack to continue.
“That was a real tragedy and such an injustice,” Allen shares.
Still, Rizvam plans to continue representing Ahmed in this blasphemy case. However, a second warrant has been issued against Ahmed. The warrant is vague and does not say what crime Ahmed is being charged with nor does it share what incident or activity which prompted the charge.
“In fact the section where the warrant is to list the offense, that field is left blank. But section 144 of the penal code…empowers district administration to issue various orders in the public interest, including placing a ban on activity that someone may be engaged in for a specified period of time,” Allen explains.
“However, we don’t know what activity is trying to be banned or what length of time it would be banned. Ahmed doesn’t know any of these things, not even who is charging him under this warrant.”
The circumstances surrounding the warrant make it seem like it was a result of bribery. Allen says standard procedures for the warrant were not followed and for this reason, the warrant more than likely will not be valid.
“The is just a wealth of corruption and injustice in this case. And so we continue to lift up our brother before the one who is sovereign over all nations,” Allen shares.
Ahmed’s case is now into the fourth month of the trial. However, this isn’t abnormal. Most blasphemy cases in Pakistan last anywhere from three to five years. This is partly because trials take place only once a week.
With that said, outside pressures continue to affect Ahmed’s case. Particularly, the recent sentencing of the men who killed the university student, Mashal Khal, after he was accused of blasphemy. The situation was supposed to go to court, but Khan was killed in April of 2017 before this happened. The courts later declared that Khan was innocent.
(Photo Courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flicker:https://flic.kr/p/9QeVE2)
In the aftermath of this, several of these men who attacked Khan have been sentenced to three years in prison, life in prison, and one has even been sentenced to death.
“[Just over a week ago] in Pakistan, there were massive protests…related to the sentencing of men who were convicted in the vigilante killings of this university student, Mashal Khan, last year,” Allen explains.
“There are so many people clamoring in the streets, or rioting, to say ‘We want to continue to riot and kill whoever we want to, regardless of evidence.’ And a lot of times that’s occurring simply because the leaders in the mosques are whipping up people emotionally.”
Allen says this is a major problem in Pakistan as people often take situations into their own hands and kill one another. And these types of situations are on the radar of the judge who is currently hearing Ahmed’s case.
“It’s a very frightening thing to be in a society where simply because someone makes an accusation your life could be forfeit,” Allen says.
Furthermore, the fatwa that was issued against Ahmed in 2017 is still running. In fact, once issued, a fatwa is never revoked until it is fulfilled. Meaning, even if the courts declare him innocent, for as long as Ahmed is in Pakistan all Muslims in the country will remain under the command to kill him.
Faith Despite Danger
Yet, Ahmed remains encouraged and his heart is still for sharing the Gospel with his country people. He recognizes his identity and life is in Christ, not in what the courts say or rule. When Allen speaks to him, Ahmed often quotes from Romans 8, saying there is nothing which can separate him from the love of Christ.
“[Ahmed] is in no way saying, ‘I retreat because of this.’ In fact he says, ‘I move forward…ministry doesn’t stop simply because of opposition.”
But while Ahmed is doing well, his wife is burdened. She’s concerned for his safety and what may happen to their family, herself, and their young children.
Prayers and Gifts
Pray that Ahmed and his family would remain strong physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Also, ask God to give Ahmed creativity in avoiding being hunted down while also being engaged in ministry.
Pray for his perseverance, his family’s protection, and his financial needs to be met. And please, pray for Rizvam’s healing, protection, and for him to come to a faith in Christ, too. Ahmed’s trials tend to take place on Fridays, so please pray for those as well.
Another way to come alongside Ahmed is by giving. A portion of Rizvam’s hospital bill is being passed along to Ahmed. And through FMI’s “Project Advocacy” fund, you can help.
FMI collects donations through the “Project Advocacy” fund and is then able to transfer them to Ahmed.
To give, click here!
“Just because there’s opportunity or open doors, we should not expect that means it will be easy to walk through those doors,” Allen says. “The Christian leaders in Pakistan understand that reality very well. And they say, ‘Hey, we keep going.’”
*Pakistan is ranked #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the 50 top countries where Christian persecution is most severe.