I received this Prisoner Release update in an email from The Voices of the Martyrs Canada. Please read Asia’s story and pray for her and her family. This young wife and mother was arrested since 2009 and has been in prison until now. Imagine being separated from your family, anxiously awaiting an appeal only to have it postponed. Pray that neither Asia nor her family will be discouraged by this major setback.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28. God has plans for Asia just as He had plans for Joseph who was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. God was with him all the time he was there just as He is with Asia.
I encourage you to visit the prayer wall and pray for Asia and other Christians like her who are being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and the families of those brave men and women who have died for their faith.
PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s Appeal Hearing Postponed
Sources: Asia News, Release International
Remember in prayer
Asia’s husband and children.
The appeal hearing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for blasphemy, has been postponed “to a later date.” Asia was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Mohammed and later sentenced to death. Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard while being held in isolation at the women’s prison in Sheikhupura (Punjab). (For more on Asia’s case, click here.)
Initially scheduled for March 17th, Asia’s first hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.
The high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Then, two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy laws. Shahbaz’s brother is now facing death threats. (For more on these threats, click here.) Late last year, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court demanded that blasphemy should carry a mandatory death sentence.
After this disappointing setback, pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Asia and her loved ones as they await the appeal hearing. May the judges and other authorities pursue justice, and may they also be protected from those who wish them harm as a result. Ask God to use this case for His good purposes, transforming the hearts and lives of those who do not yet know Him and encouraging believers to be courageous in their faith.
To share your prayers for Asia and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.
Who is Huma Abedin? She has been dubbed “The Good Wife”. Why? She is standing by her husband Anthony Weiner in spite of new revelations about his online communications with a twenty-something woman. As we all know Anthony Weiner was involved in the Twitter Photo scandal in June 2011, bringing unwanted media attention on his wife.
On Tuesday, July 23, 2013, Huma spoke at a press conference making it clear that she was going to remain committed to her marriage and supportive of her husband who is currently running in the New York City mayoral race.
Huma was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When she was two years old, her family moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Both her parents were educators. Her father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was born in India in 1928, was an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, and later received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He died in 1993. Her Pakistani mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, also received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently an associate professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah. Huma returned to the United States to attend George Washington University.
Huma began working as an intern for the White House in 1996 and was assigned to Hillary Rodham Clinton and is currently a director working on the transition team of Mrs. Clinton. She served as traveling chief of staff and “body woman” for Clinton during Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election.
In 2010 Huma was included in Time’s “40 under 40″, a list of a “new generation of civic leaders” and “rising stars of American politics”. Clinton had high praises for her, stating in a speech, “I only have one daughter. But if I had a second daughter, it would [be] Huma.”
Huma is not a stranger to unwanted attention. Her Muslim faith came under attack on June 13, 2012 when allegations about her were raised by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Congressman Trent Franks (R-Arizona), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Congressman Tom Rooney (R-Florida), and Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Georgia) who sent a letter to the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of State, Harold W. Geisel, requesting an investigation into the influence of anyone associated with the Muslim Brotherhood on State Department policy, citing a study by the Center for Security Policy, a principal proponent of Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theories, that said that Abedin “has three family members–her late father, her mother and her brother–connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations”.
Republicans John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Ed Rollins defended Abedin against these allegations. John McCain stated, “These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant… The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government… These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now.” Speaker of the House John Boehner was right when he said that these accusations about Huma were “pretty dangerous” because she and her family were place under police protection when they were threatened by a New Jersey man as result of this controversy.
Huma married Anthony on July 10, 2010. A year later she was subjected to his social media scandal. Prior to their marriage Anthony had revealed his online relationships to her. According to Anthony, when Huma learned of the new revelations, she “was very unhappy, she was very disappointed, and she told me as much. And she also told me that she loved me and we’re going to get through this.”
Notes to Women salutes this honorable woman, dedicated mother and loyal wife. We wish her all the best and hope that Anthony will do whatever he needs to do to preserve his marriage.
Like many mothers here in Canada and around the world, I was able to celebrate Mother’s Day on May 12, 2013. There’s nothing more wonderful than spending this special day with your family. Even as I enjoyed the delicious breakfast my husband had given and as I watched my mother’s face light up as her grandson gave her a picture he had colored and a kiss, I couldn’t help remembering the mother who would not experience this joy.
Just recently I subscribed to The Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOM) newsletter and was moved by the stories of Christians who endured various trials and were persecuted for their faith. I got a free copy of the book Tortured For Christ, written by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of VOM, an organization “dedicated to helping, loving and encouraging persecuted Christians worldwide”. I knew that there were Christians in other parts of the world who were killed or imprisoned because they refused to renounce their faith but was not privy to their sufferings until I read the newsletter and prisoner alerts on the website.
On Mother’s Day, I thought of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman who was arrested by police in 2009. Before her arrest, she along with many of the local women worked on the farm of a Muslim landowner. Many of these women pressured Asia to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. There was a discussion among the women about their faith and after she reportedly told them, “Our Christ is the true prophet of God and yours is not true,” the women got angry and they beat her. Read the rest of Asia’s story at http://www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_197_profile.html
Asia is from a country where “Muslims who convert to Christianity are often threatened or killed by their family because of the shame associated with such a conversion. Breaking the blasphemy law, Section 295c of the penal code – blaspheming Mohammed – is punishable by death. Blasphemy accusations against Christians often occur in retaliation for personal or commercial disputes.”
Asia is still languishing in prison and there are times when she is discouraged. She has had to spend another Easter and Mother’s Day without her family. Her husband has been encouraging her to hang on to her faith. Letters to officials have been written on her behalf and over fifteen thousand letters of encouragement have been written her.
Apparently Pakistan is a dangerous place for a Christian woman. I just watched the video below of a woman named Shafia and the horrors she and her family endured for their faith. In the midst of this, though, she found peace and took comfort in the knowledge that she is a daughter of God.
Check out other videos of women who are persecuted for their faith and the widows of martyrs at http://persecution.tv/video?task=videodirectlink&id=942
Today, let us hold our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer. Let us take action to let them know that they are not suffering alone. Write letters of encouragement. Write to the officials. Get prisoner and prayer alerts via email so that you can pray for the persecuted. Check out http://www.persecution.net to see how you can get involved. And don’t forget to give God thanks for being able to worship Him without fear of persecution or imprisonment or death. Thank Him if you are blessed to be living in a country where there is religious liberty.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.
A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-
In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.
The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:
Please do share these links with friends and family….
In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.
As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….
All my very best
You can check out Sharmeen’s website at: http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/ I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures.
I was thrilled last night when I saw the documentary, Saving Face win the Oscar. It was a proud moment for Canadian Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy as she made history as Pakistan’s first Oscar winner. Chinoy hopes that this Oscar win will ignite a flourishing film industry in Pakistan.
Saving Face is a documentatry about acid attacks. The film follows London-based Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, as he journeys to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. Saving Face also broaches the subject of the under-reporting of acid violence due to cultural and structural inequalities towards women. The film also features two women attacked by acid and their struggle for justice and healing. The Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan, which is featured in the film, had documented over 100 acid attacks a year in Pakistan but estimates far more due to lack of reporting.
Obaid-Chinoy has also stated that the film is “a positive story about Pakistan on two accounts: firstly, it portrays how a Pakistani-British doctor comes to treat them and it also discusses, in great depth, the parliament’s decision to pass a bill on acid violence”. Obaid-Chinoy has also said that the film assisted in the trial and conviction of one of the perpretrators of acid violence on a female victim.
“I am so grateful for the Academy’s recognition of this film and the issues highlighted here. No-one who sees these women could fail to be moved. Each beautiful in their own way, their lives have been destroyed, their faces and bodies disfigured, often by members of their own families,” Jawad said following the film’s success at the 84th Academy Awards. “They are the real heroes here. They have been ostracised from society following the terrible attacks that have been inflicted upon them. I merely try to restore God’s creation, which has been destroyed by such evil acts of human beings, in the best way I know how. I hope that awareness of the cause will help to eradicate this beast of a man-made disease from society,” Jawad said.
Sharmeen Obaid was born in Karachi attended the Karachi Grammar School. She graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Government and fromStanford Uni with master’s degrees in International Policy Studies and in Communication.Obaid-Chinoy is an Emmy award winning producer and journalist. She won an Emmy for her documentary, Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010. She is also the first non-American to win the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Her career in documentary began when she examined the plight of Afghani refugee children in Pakistan for one of her articles. Their situation was so dire, and their stories so compelling, that Sharmeen decided to return to Pakistan and create a film about them. She petitioned Smith College and New York Times Television production division for the grants that would allow her to accomplish her goals. Intrigued by her story, both organizations gave her the funds as well as production equipment and training. She is currently a faculty member at media sciences department in SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and technology, Karachi). Obaid-Chinoy is also on the board member of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).
Known for documentaries dealing with life in the Muslim world, Obaid became the first non-American to win the Livingston Award. Her films have aired on such networks as Channel 4,CNN, PBS, and Al-Jazeera. She began her career with New York Times Television in 2002 where she produced Terror’s Children, a film about Afghan refugee children, which won her the Overseas Press Club Award, the American Women and Radio and Television Award, and the South Asian Journalist Association Award. Since then, she has produced and reported on more than twelve films around the world.
Obaid produced and reported on four multi-award winning documentary films for New York Times Television. In 2003, Reinventing the Taliban was awarded the Special Jury Award at the BANFF TV festival in Canada, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the American Women in Radio and Television award, and the Livingston Award. In 2005, her film Women of the Holy Kingdom, which provided an inside look at the women’s movement in Saudi Arabia, won the South Asian Journalist Association Award.
In 2005, Obaid began working with Channel 4 in the United Kingdom reporting on four films for their Unreported World series. Pakistan’s Double Game looked at sectarian violence in Pakistan, City of Guilt explored the Catholic Church’s pro-life movement in the Philippines, The New Apartheid looked into growing xenophobia in South Africa, and Birth of a Nationdelved into the politics of East Timor. In 2007, Obaid was named “journalist of the year” by the One World Media awards for her work in the series.
In 2007, Obaid travelled to Afghanistan and reported for Channel 4 and CNN. Her film, Afghanistan Unveiled/Lifting the Veil, focuses on stalled reconstruction and the repression of women in the country.
Acid throwing (acid attack or vitriolage) is a form of violent assault. It is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring him or her out of jealousy or revenge”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. These attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh,Pakistan and other nearby countries. According to Taru Bahl and M.H. Syed, 80% of victims of these acid attacks are female and almost 70% are under 18 years of age.
According to New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof, acid attacks are at an all time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The Pakistani attacks he describes are typically the work of husbands against their wives who have “dishonored them”.
Obaid-Chinoy’s win has been the cause for celebration in her home country. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced that Obaid-Chinoy would be receiving a civil award for her achievements on Monday, according to the Associated Press. She is the first Pakistani to win an Oscar.
She dedicated her Oscar to “all the women in Pakistan working for change. Don’t give up on your dreams. This is for you.”
Saving Face airs March 8 on HBO Canada.
Notes to Women congratulates this remarkable woman whose passion for sharing stories of women and children and their plight has earned her the recognition she deserves. Sharmeen, you made your country and women around the world very proud.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Face_(documentary); http://ca.news.yahoo.com/canadian-pakistani-filmmaker-nabs-oscar-documentary-short-acid-160219303.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharmeen_Obaid-Chinoy; http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/; http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/27/the-victims-are-the-real-heroes.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing; http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120227/saving-face-oscar-winner-sharmeen-obaid-chinoy-ce