|Pastor Behnam Irani|
LYBIA - Egyptian Christian businessman Sherif Ramses manages a bookstore in Benghazi. On Feb. 10th, he was arrested when authorities found his store’s inventory included Christian books. They also arrested other Benghazi believers associated with Sherif through business or as language teachers. While they all await formal charges in court, they have been accused of proselytizing Christianity, and Sherif is being physically mistreated in jail. Pray that God will protect and preserve Sherif and his Christian friends during this difficult time while facing opposition and incarceration. Ask for the amazing peace and presence of Jesus to overshadow these suffering believers and their family members. Ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit on the entire nation of Libya so many will be brought to repentance and faith in Him!
PAKISTAN - In a surprising ruling on Jan. 28th, a judge in a Punjab court threw out charges of blasphemy against Christian convert, Barkat Masih, who was accused of insulting Islam. The ruling came two months after similar charges were dismissed against the teenage girl Rimsha Masih. In Sept. of 2011, at a Hindu shrine in Barkat's native village, located on two acres of his family’s land, two frequent visitors to the shrine deliberately started an altercation with him, alleging that he had spoken badly against the Muslim prophet. Following a complaint filed by the two accusers, police arrested and charged Barkat on Oct. 1, 2011.
Penalties for blasphemy include life imprisonment or death. While Barkat awaited trial almost 16 months in prison, 25 people submitted affidavits in his favour, defending his innocence. An investigation revealed that the two shrine visitors had actually plotted to take over Barkat's land and therefore accused him. When the accusers were unable to produce any evidence, the blasphemy charge was dismissed. "I didn't think God would rescue me from such an impossible situation," explains 56-year-old Barkat after the judgment, "but my miraculous rescue has strengthened my faith in Him." Due to threats from those in his village, Barkat and his family will have to relocate. Even the judge has taken an indefinite leave of absence since the trial, for fear of reprisal.