Pak Christian cleared of blasphemy with help from Barnabas *Gunmen fire on Indonesian church

Pakistan, April 03, 2012: A young Christian man has been cleared of blasphemy in Pakistan with the help of a Christian legal organisation supported by Barnabas Fund.

Dildar Masih (29), a father of two, was falsely accused in June 2011 after an incident involving his nephew, aged around eight, who was set upon by Muslim boys.
The youngster, Sunny Masih, had been pressured by madrasa students from the local mosque to recite theshahada, the Muslim confession of faith. When Sunny refused, the Muslim boys started to beat him severely.

Dildar, who saw this from some distance, shouted and rushed to the scene to rescue his nephew, and then went to work. A few days later, a blasphemy case was registered with the police against Dildar by a Muslim prayer leader. He accused the Christian man of insulting the shahada and offending the passions of Muslims.

Dildar, who lives in Mian Channu, Khanewal district, in Punjab province, was arrested and held in custody.

In November 2011, his father Yousaf Masih contacted CLAAS, a Pakistani Christian legal organisation supported by Barnabas Fund, to request legal help and financial assistance for Dildar’s wife and two children.

CLAAS informed Barnabas Fund on 26 March that it has now succeeded in securing Dildar’s acquittal from the court. It is also providing safe accommodation for Dildar and his family; those accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are very vulnerable to reprisal attacks by Muslims, even after they have been cleared of all charges.

Sadly, the outcome for many people charged with blasphemy in Pakistan is dire. They are often left languishing in prison for months or even years while their case is considered, and if they are eventually released, it is almost impossible for them to return to their former lives because of the threat from hostile Muslims.

Christians and other non-Muslims are particularly vulnerable to malicious, false accusation under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as the judiciary in the lower courts tend to believe the word of a Muslim over the word of a non-Muslim, in line with the teachings of sharia. And because there is no penalty for false accusation, the law is often exploited to settle personal scores and grudges.

– barnabas team

Gunmen fire on Indonesian church building in latest attack


Indonesia, April 02, 2012: Gunmen fired on an Indonesian church in the latest attack on the building, which has been illegally sealed off by the authorities since 2008.

Two men in their 30s were seen wandering around the site of GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, West Java, at around noon on 16 March. The pair opened fire using air guns loaded with lead bullets, causing damage to the church windows.

They were arrested, and police found in the offenders’ vehicle a map of the church building as well as information about other targets in different cities.

It is the latest in a long line of attacks on GKI, which has been under sustained pressure from the Bogor authorities and Islamist groups.

The church’s half-constructed building has been illegally sealed off by city chiefs since 2008, forcing the congregation to hold services on the street. Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto has refused to comply with an order by the Supreme Court in December 2010, and a subsequent ruling by the Ombudsman Commission, that the church be reopened. He has used various ploys to prevent the church from gathering publicly, an effort that has been backed by radical Islamists, who have staged repeated protests against the church.

Last month, Indonesia’s main Christian organisations took the matter to the Constitutional Court. Andreas Yewangoe, chairman of the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI), said that there was deep frustration within the Christian community over the state’s failure to make the Bogor authorities comply with the Supreme Court ruling. They are also disappointed that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to “resolve” the matter but has not taken any action.

It seems, however, that there is little the Constitutional Court will be able to do. The chief justice, Mahfud M.D., said that he was similarly frustrated by the government’s inability to enforce the order, adding:

I’m hesitant to say anything new because everyone else – the Supreme Court, the House of Representatives, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah (the country’s two biggest Islamic organisations) – have already pointed out that the ruling is final and should be obeyed.

Bogor’s obstructive mayor has offered a “relocation to a more representative location”, presumably referring to an area that does not have a Muslim majority, and also to buy GKI’s building and land. But the church has said that it will not accept any offer of alternative premises, insisting that the law be upheld.

– barnabas team

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