27 June 2023
Pakistan government to strengthen “blasphemy” law; Fourteen killed by Islamists in Kaduna State, Nigeria; More than 3,000 church licenses now issued by Egypt government
- Pakistan’s coalition government has reached an agreement with an Islamist opposition party that includes the strengthening of Pakistan’s controversial “blasphemy” laws. The agreement, signed on 17 June, states that anybody charged under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code with defaming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, will also be charged with terrorism offences. The penalty for “blasphemy” against Muhammad is already death. The government has additionally promised to speed up trials of “blasphemy” cases and to create a new Counter Blasphemy Department. Pray for Pakistan’s Christians, and other religious minorities, who are especially vulnerable to accusations of “blasphemy”. Ask the Lord to protect His people as these changes lead to greater likelihood of false convictions and mob violence.
- Fourteen people were killed by suspected Islamists in the Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria, on the evening of 13 June. Among them were 11 residents of Chisu village, who were burned to death when the gunmen set fire to a house in which they were taking shelter. Another three were killed in the neighbouring village of Bwai, where the attackers also burned down a church building. Ask the Lord to comfort the bereaved and sustain the faith of His people in the face of this violence. Pray that He will act decisively to end the ongoing violence in northern and Middle Belt Nigeria.
- The government of Egypt has licensed a further 374 churches and church-affiliated buildings. This is the 27th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the process began work in 2017, and the largest single batch so far. Licences have now been granted to 3,189 of the 3,730 churches that applied for registration under a 2016 law that abolished Ottoman-era restrictions on church building. Give thanks for this latest batch of approvals, and for passing the milestone of 3,000 licences. Pray that the Lord will give His people wisdom in using these buildings well and prevent any backlash from extremists.