Pakistani Christian couple hopes to get out of prison after 7 years

Pakistan (MNN) — Christians often get accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, and the story of Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife follows familiar trends.

Bruce Allen of FMI says the couple was accused of, “Sending a text message by phone that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and insulted the Quran. These crimes, if convicted, do demand the death penalty in Pakistan. All that, trial, conviction, and sentencing, has already taken place. The couple’s been in prison now for [almost seven] years. They’ve been appealing, and there’s been delay after delay. The appeal was set to be heard on June 3, Just a few days ago. but again, it got delayed to June 22.”

The accusations

An imam in Pakistan claims to have gotten this text while in prayers, and an attorney claims to have received similar messages while talking with the imam about the issue. Allen says, “So it really does seem like this whole thing is just a set up against this couple. Whoever was perpetrating it knew who the imam was and who he was talking with, and sent the text messages at the proper time to just inflame and incite people against the couple.”

Stained glass window from a church in Pakistan. Pray that Christians in Pakistan would have relief from persecution. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The police then entered Shafqat’s house, overpowering him quickly (he is paralyzed from the waist down). The family was arrested, and Shafqat was beaten and threatened until he admitted to sending the text messages.

Lack of evidence

Despite Shafqat’s forced admission, he could not possibly have sent the messages. Allen explains, “He couldn’t. Number one, he’s illiterate. Number two, the text messages weren’t even in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan; they were in English. He doesn’t even know how to speak English, let alone read or write it.”

In fact, most Christians in Pakistan can’t read or write, and most work lowly jobs, like sanitation work.

Shafqat and his wife have languished in separate prisons since their arrest in 2013. Thankfully, they do have lawyer Saif ul Malook on their side, who also successfully represented Asia Bibi.

Allen says Malook lives under a threat of death for even representing clients accused of blasphemy. “He’s willing to put his life on the line to defend those who are unjustly accused. And he has been on the record saying that the evidence against Shafqat is nil.”

Pray for Christians in Pakistan

The judges themselves may be delaying the case out of fear for what may happen to them if they acquit Shafqat and his wife. Allen encourages Christians to pray that justice will be done for this couple. Pray also that their children will be comforted by Christ.

However, he also says, “There are scores of Christians languishing in prisons in Pakistan, who’s been charged and sentenced convicted of blasphemy. The charges are bogus, but things are just set against them. When we pray for this couple, be praying for all of those individuals and their families who wait for them outside the prison.”

Christians in Pakistan often face false accusations of blasphemy charges. (Image by QASIM REHMANI from Pixabay)

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