Also Concerns About Attacked Indian Pastor
By BosNewsLife Asia Service
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Hundreds of Indian Christians have demonstrated at the border with neighboring Pakistan against the death sentence given to Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi on charges of committing blasphemy against Islam, The Times of India news paper reported Saturday, February 19.
The activists of advocacy group Christian Front Punjab (CFP), who gathered Saturday, February 19, at the Attari border station, demanded that Pakistan’s government “revoke the orders of capital punishment,” the news paper said. They reportedly also urged the world to pressure Pakistan to scrap its controversial blasphemy legislation that human rights groups say has been misused in personal disputes.
Asia Bibi, a mother of five, was accused of uttering blasphemous words against Prophet Mohammad and charged under the blasphemy law in 2009. She was sentenced to death in November last year. Bibi has denied the charges.
Saturday’s demonstration of Indian Christians came shortly after Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari once again included Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, into the cabinet as Federal Minister for Minorities, after it was reshuffled last week. Bhatti has campaigned against the blasphemy laws and wants the death sentence of Bibi to be overturned.
INDIAN PASTOR ATTACKED
Christian rights activists also expressed concerns however about the situation of devoted Christians in India, a predominantly Hindu nation where militants have been targeting devoted Christians.
Among those attacked was Indian Pastor Hari Shankar Ninama, 65, who remained traumatized Saturday, February 19, after he was reportedly stripped, beaten and wounded by Hindu extremists in the Indian state of Rajasthan earlier this month.
He said some 10 Hindu extremists raided the home in Ambarunda village in Pratapgarh district where he was praying for an eight-year-old boy’s recovery from illness.
The assailants allegedly beat him and, putting him on one of their motorbikes, and took him outside the village, where they stripped off his clothes and struck him. “They criticized me with abusive language and accusations of forced conversion and made me repeat words after them,” Pastor Ninama said about the February 1 attack in published remarks. “Threatening to kill me if I continue to spread Christianity, they left me naked on the road and fled.”
His family has asked police not to prosecute those responsible, amid fears of more attacks on their home church, which Hindu militants have reportedly threatened to burn down, Christians said.