We come to you today in the case of Sawan Masih. He has been sentenced to death in Pakistan. We ask that You stay very close to Sawan, his wife Sobi, and their family. We pray that You will hasten their appeal and that it will be successful. Please Father, provide for this family. We thank You, God, for the courage and commitment of this unfortunate man, as he has walked the good path for You. Please support all Christians in Pakistan who suffer and endur, renew their stamina and protect them, despite today's disheartening news.
In the name of your son, Jesus, we pray.
"Sawan Masih, a poor Pakistani Christian who had been working as a sanitary worker in a section of Lahore surrounded by factories, was accused during the course of a conversation with a Muslim friend of insulting the Prophet Mohammed on March 6, 2013.
"When the police arrested him two days later, he was accused of allegedly saying, "Jesus is true. He is the Son of God. He will come to save me, while Muslims' Prophet is fake."
"After the accusation, based on the verbal statement of a Muslim barber Shahid Imran, more than 3,000 Pakistani Muslims rioted and torched about 100 Christian homes in a small neighbourhood of Christians called Joseph Colony. While the Christians fled, the police silently watched as the Muslim protestors destroyed the Christians' homes and stole their possessions.
"Since the accusation, Sawan Masih has been in jail. On March 27, 2014, a court of additional session Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza handed down the death sentence to Sawan Masih after "finding him guilty of blasphemy" and also ordered him to pay fine of 200,000 Pakistani rupees, equivalent $2,044 USD.
"Masih denied the charge against him. The Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement [CLAAS], an interdenominational organization working for Christians persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan, has provided lawyers for Masih. On April 1, CLAAS's lawyers appealed the verdict to the Lahore High Court.
"The trial was conducted in prison for Masih's safety, after the rights organization said that his life could be in danger and requested the case to be heard in jail.
"'This is not the only blasphemy case where this has happened," said the director of the UK-based division of CLAAS, Nasir Saeed. "There are examples including the trial of Younis Masih. Several blasphemy-law victims have been killed during their hearings, including Rashid Emannuel and Sajid Emannuel who were killed by extremists in broad daylight in 2010 in front of hundreds of people in the district court's compound in Faisalabad.'"
How the Blasphemy Law Really Works, by Mohshin Habib, at Gatestone Institute
"A Pakistani Christian appealed his blasphemy conviction yesterday to the Lahore High Court. His defense team believes the charges were trumped up to speed the eviction of minority Christians from their land. Gospel For Asia founder and international director KP Yohannan says this isn’t unusual. “They know that at any time, they can be accused of something and can be arrested or punished; lots of people who believe in Christ do face this on a regular basis: ostracization. This is definitely on the rise.”
"Sawan Masih was convicted last week on blasphemy charges. His case initially sparked a Muslim rampage and the destruction of Christian property."
Christian Appeals Blasphemy Conviction in Pakistan, by Ruth Kramer, at Mission Network News
Please read Sentenced to Death in Pakistan at International Christian Concern.
"Sawan Masih, a Christian roadsweeper from Lahore, was today sentenced to death for blasphemy.
"Judges passed sentence in a private hearing due to the 'sensitive nature' of the case. They also fined him 200,000 Rupees (£1,200).
"Sawan, a father-of-three from Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore, was detained after he was accused of blasphemy following a row with a Muslim friend in March 2013 (Prayer Alert, March 25).
"The accusations against him sparked two days of rioting in his Christian neighbourhood, during which a 3,000-strong mob set more than 200 homes alight. Hundreds of Christians across Pakistan took to the streets to demand greater protection in the aftermath of the riots.
"Release partners are supporting Sawan and his family."
Prayer text and picture from Release International Prayer Alert, Christian Roadsweeper Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy
"The blasphemy case against a Christian roadsweeper from Lahore is due back in court tomorrow.
"Release partners who are supporting Sawan Masih and his family say they are hopeful that the judge will reach a verdict at tomorrow's hearing."
Release International Prayer Alert, Blasphemy Accused Awaits Trial
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.