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***News Release***

Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition Praises God for ‘Miracle in Pakistan,’ as Asia Bibi Is Acquitted

Pakistani Christian Woman Had Been on Death Row for Eight Years on False Charges of ‘Blasphemy’

WASHINGTON—Christians around the world are rejoicing today, as Asia Bibi—the Pakistani Christian woman who had been on death row for blasphemy for eight years—has been acquitted, reports The Christian Post and other media outlets.

Joining in the celebration is the Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) Coalition, which in recent months has featured Bibi along with Pastor Andrew Brunson as examples of the Prisoners of Conscience who have been incarcerated for their faith. Like the pastor, her safety must be assured by removing her beyond the reach of those who would try to take advantage of her freedom to murder her and her family.

The decision was made by the court on Oct. 8, but its announcement was delayed in anticipation that the verdict would be met with widespread violence—probably on Friday, if not before.

“Praise God! Today, we celebrate the decision to set Asia Bibi free,” says Dede Laugesen, director of the Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition. “But, with angry mobs already protesting her release, we won’t breathe easy until she is safely reunited with her husband and children and secure outside of Pakistan. We are also concerned for the safety of the judges, her lawyer and innocent Christians who may be harmed in retribution for her release. The Coalition believes that it may be possible to discourage such harm by ensuring that persecutors know they will be held accountable and punished for their crimes against humanity.”

Previously, the U.K.-based Catholic Herald reported that Bibi’s “crime” was to drink water from a supply used by Muslims. As a farm worker, Bibi was in the fields alongside Muslim women when she took a drink. The objections came because she was an “unclean” Christian. She was beaten by an angry mob then rescued by police. A few days later, Bibi was accused by a local imam, who had not been present at the incident, of insulting Muhammad. She was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy laws a year later.

Frank Gaffney, a founding member of the Coalition, called Bibi’s acquittal a “Miracle in Pakistan” in his Secure Freedom Minute radio commentary this morning:

“A miracle just happened,” he said. “The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled today that Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy—a capital offense under Islam’s totalitarian Sharia code—is not guilty after eight years on death row. Particularly miraculous was the courage of the three Pakistani justices who know full well that, in freeing Mrs. Bibi, they have probably signed their own death warrants. Other senior officials there have been murdered simply for speaking up for her and against blasphemy restrictions.

“We must now pray for a few more miracles,” he continued. “Extracting Asia and her family safely from Pakistan will probably require an operation as stealthy as the one that liquidated Osama bin Laden there. And let the hand of God be upon other Pakistani Christians who will stay behind and are likely to be targeted for intensified persecution following her acquittal.”

Pakistan is No. 5 on the 2018 Open Doors USA World Watch List for the “extreme” persecution of that country’s nearly 4 million Christians.  Much of the repression comes from Sharia-supremacist groups that flourish and expand under the favor of Pakistani political parties, the army and the government.

The STPC Coalition, which advocates on behalf of 215 million Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, is working diligently to disseminate actionable information about ways in which the American people can help those like Bibi who are being persecuted for their faith.

Especially in light of such immense global oppression, raising awareness about Christian persecution is crucial since violence toward and imprisonment of Christians occurs so routinely it rarely makes the news. For example, according to Open Doors, 255 Christians are killed worldwide every month. 104 Christians are abducted. 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage. 160 Christians are detained or imprisoned without trial. And 66 churches are attacked. Every month.

With such staggering statistics, and the knowledge that most of these crimes are not covered in the media, the STPC Coalition developed a dedicated a news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution that do make the news and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.

One of the simple and economical ways Americans can render support is by encouraging their pastors and faith leaders to visit www.SaveThePersecutedChristians.org and to order a free banner to display in front of their houses of worship. These simple banners feature a graphic “Save Us” plea with a cross and the coalition’s website where Americans can learn about the global persecution of Christians and find out more about what they can do to help stop it.

With so much of the world’s population attacked, imprisoned or exiled for their beliefs—like Asia Bibi and other followers of Christ in Pakistan—the need for the sort of movement the STPC Coalition is working to foster has never been greater.  Its efforts are modeled after a campaign that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution, Soviet Jews, by holding its persecutors in the Kremlin accountable and imposing real costs for its repression of people of faith.  The Coalition’s movement in our time aims to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and lastingly alleviate the suffering of those persecuted simply because they follow Jesus Christ.