‘I am very discouraged’ says American Pastor Marking 500 Days in Turkish Prison

“He’s obviously gone in and out of just kind of discouragement, wondering what’s going to happen, what’s the end game here,”

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been locked up in a Turkish prison for 500 days. The anniversary of Brunson’s captivity passed quietly Monday, but the American Center for Law and Justice is still aggressively working on his case.

Andrew
 On Oct. 7, 2017 Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine, were summoned to a local police station in Izmir, Turkey. At the time, this didn’t seem like anything to be worried about. The couple, originally from North Carolina, had lived for 23 years in Turkey’s third largest city, where Andrew was the pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small protestant congregation of about 25. The Brunsons had raised three children in Turkey and had applied for permanent residency. They went willingly to the police station, thinking they were finally going to get it. Instead, Andrew and Norine were taken into custody, accused of missionary activities “against national security,” and told they would be deported. Norine was released on Oct. 9 and so far has been allowed to stay in Turkey, but more than six months later, Andrew remains locked up. On Dec. 11, he was moved to a counter-terrorism center and charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” A judge ordered that he be detained rather than deported.

 

“He still remains merely a suspect of alleged crimes; no indictment has yet to be handed down,” CeCe Heil, executive counsel for the non-profit organization, told CBN News.

The ACLJ is fighting on Brunson’s behalf and reports the pastor wrote a heartfelt note to his wife through an embassy official this month.

“I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me,” Brunson wrote. “I love you – can’t handle the thought of growing old in this place, without you.”

“I think being trapped in a Turkish prison with really no end in sight has been hard on Pastor Brunson,” Heil said. “Of course he has his faith to sustain him and the prayers of faithful believers all over the world… but as you can imagine, this 500 days in prison, he’s lost quite a bit of weight.”

“He’s obviously gone in and out of just kind of discouragement, wondering what’s going to happen, what’s the end game here,” she added.

Heil said the accusations against Brunson range from membership in an armed terrorist organization to espionage and overthrowing the government. “So very ridiculous claims against an innocent pastor,” she said.

Heil explained to CBN News that under Turkish law, Brunson can remain in prison for seven years without ever being charged. 

Testifying at the US Helsinki Commission hearing late last year, she said, “Pastor Brunson maintains his innocence and denies all the accusations.”   

Prison (1)
 Inside of a prison in Turkey

It seems that Brunson is a political hostage of Turkey. Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to indicate that the pastor will only be released when Washington gives Turkey a Muslim cleric living in the US who is Erdogan’s rival.

“..they (the US) get up and say… ‘Give us so and so cleric,'” Erdogan said at a police academy graduation ceremony in Ankara in September, referring to Brunson.

Erdogan then brought up Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, saying, “You have a cleric there. You give him to us and we’ll give you this one.”

Turkey has been seeking the extradition of Gulen, who was once Erdogan’s ally, and whose supporters have been blamed for trying to overthrow Erdogan’s government in 2016. Gulen has denied any role in the coup attempt.  Heil said Erdogan even recently talked about a swap.

“It certainly seems that Pastor Brunson has become a political pawn,” she told CBN News. “He lived 23 years in Turkey without any incident, without any problem.”

“After the failed coup attempt in July of 2016, then Pastor Brunson’s suddenly arrested as a national security threat and then remains in prison,” she continued.

“And just recently, President Erdogan has demanded a swap, basically saying a cleric for a cleric or a pastor for a pastor,” Heil said. “You have Fethullah Gulen; we have Pastor Brunson. Let’s do a swap.”

But she doesn’t believe the US will agree to the deal.

“I don’t believe that the US will ever trade prisoners; that’s not the way that we typically operate,” she told CBN News. “So I believe they’ll keep following through with Turkey, who is a NATO ally and continuing to demand his release.”

Heil said President Donald Trump has repeatedly asked for Brunson’s release. In addition, just last week, she said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and again asked for the pastor to be freed   

“It seems like this meeting last week between Tillerson, Erdogan and Cavusoglu, it seems like they came out of that meeting hopeful that the US-Turkey relationship will be restored,” Heil said. “So we’re hopeful that Pastor Brunson will be part of that resolution.”

In the meantime, Heil said the most important thing people can do for Brunson is pray for him, but she also encourages taking action by signing an ACLJ petition, “Free Pastor Andrew,” which has more than 426,000 signatures so far.

“That’s very helpful because as we speak to our government as well as Turkish government and European government, it’s very helpful just to show the mass amount of people who have their eyes on this matter and are concerned about this matter and are demanding his release,” she said.

EDITORS NOTE: I wonder if Jakes, Olsteen, Dollar, Copeland, the pope and the other filthy rich “men of G-d” have signed that petition! I wonder if they even took up an offering to help support this man’s family.  I wonder if they’ve even used their resources to bring any significant attention to this matter. I wonder if they held any “night vigils,” I wonder if this man will even be thought of or mentioned during “lent,” I wonder what they would do if this were Oprah, Just wondering…….

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ISIS Threatens Attacks on Churches in Washington DC, New York on Christmas

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster…

Islamic State supporters have threatened to launch a terror attack in Washington, D.C. and New York on Christmas, according to the SITE intelligence group. A propaganda poster carries a picture that shows Washington’s National Cathedral erupting in flames while indicating that New York could be their target.

ISIS

“We meet at Christmas in New York soon,” reads the caption of the poster, which otherwise carries an image of Washington’s National Cathedral, reveals SITE, which monitors extremist communications online.

The poster was found circulating through a pro-Islamic State encrypted channel, Telegram.

“ISIS is incentivized to make threats like this, which come at no cost to them. ISIS is not dispatching fighters around the world for complex coordinated terrorist attacks, but has largely relied upon individuals and citizens already living in Europe and the United States to commit unsophisticated attacks,” Newsweek quotes Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center, as saying. “These individuals’ affiliations with ISIS are often tenuous and are perhaps better described as ‘inspired by’ rather than operationally directed. So perhaps somebody within the U.S. will take it upon themselves to commit an attack on Christmas, which falsely bolsters the perceived capabilities and reach of the group.” 

In October, a 27-year-old man from Virginia, Mohamad Khweis, became the first U.S. citizen to be convicted of successfully joining the Islamic State terror group, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Over 100 people in the U.S. have been charged with trying to support or join IS, but Khweis succeeded.

IS managed to encourage over 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries to travel to join their fight before and after the declaration of the “caliphate” in June 2014, according to a report, “Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees.”

The report, recently released by the Washington-based security intelligence consultancy Soufan Center, states that there are now at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home — accounting for about 15 percent of the fighters.

The report claims that for the U.S., 129 fighters succeeded in leaving the country and only seven have returned.

While IS has lost its territory in Syria and Iraq, the threat is far from over in the  Middle East or elsewhere.

Iraq declared earlier this month that its territory is now “fully liberated” from IS, overlooking warnings by allies that the terror group still poses a threat to the country in the form of guerrilla warfare.

“As ISIS continues to lose land, influence, funding streams and conventional capabilities, we expect them to return to their terrorist roots by conducting high-profile attacks on helpless civilians such as those we’ve already seen in Nasiriyah, Ramadi, and elsewhere over the past weeks,” a spokesperson of the U.S.-led international coalition said at the time.

Iranian influence is now present in Nineveh towns once mostly populated by Christians before IS took over, and has prevented some from returning to their homes.

ISIS Threatens to Attack Vatican on Christmas

ISIS militants see the Vatican as a prime target because it represents Christianity and the West.

The Islamic State has threatened to attack the Vatican on Christmas, in what they are calling a “Christmas blood” attack.

In a propaganda video released by ISIS supporters, a masked figure is shown driving toward the Vatican with a gun and a backpack, supposedly containing a bomb. The video is accompanied by the words “Christmas blood. So wait…” ISIS AND VATICAN

According to Fox News, Christmas is historically a time when ISIS has stepped up their attacks. One such attack occurred in 2015, when a terrorist who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State carried out an attack in San Bernardino, California which killed 14 people.

The terrorist group is especially looking for opportunities to be on the offensive since they are losing more and more ground in the Middle East, the seat of their so-called “caliphate.” Terror experts have warned that, because the Islamic State has lost territory they previously controlled, they may focus their efforts on isolated attacks in various parts of the world. 

ISIS militants see the Vatican as a prime target because it represents Christianity and the West. Security is being stepped up in the Vatican and in other places around the world as the holiday season approaches.

Christians And Their Religion

If any Christian says that he/she wants to “expose deception and turn people to Christ” he/she can began with looking into the origin of Christianity and all of the filth and evil associated with it.  

It’s funny how Christians can attack EVERY OTHER RELIGION besides Christianity! (Mathew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?). Radical Islam is terrible indeed just as radical Christianity is. The KKK ( Klu Klux Klan) is an example of radical Christianity that sees people of color as “less than infidels” just as the radical Muslims do but the Christians don’t want to talk about that! Most [if not all] of those Klansman will tell you they are Christian and are “carrying out the will of God.“Repent Amarillo” is another example of radical Christianity. Repent Amarillo is a militant Christian fundamentalist group whose antics have ranged from staging a mock execution of Santa Claus by firing squad to posting a “spiritual warfare” map on its Web site that cited a Buddhist temple, an Islamic center, gay bars, strip clubs and sex shops as places of demonic activity.  The “Army of God”, another example of radical Christianity (active since the early 1980’s) is a loose network of radical anti-abortionists with a long history of promoting terrorism and premeditated murder in the name of Christianity. The Army of God has published an anti-abortion training manual that offers instructions on bomb-making, arson and other ways to attack clinics. The group’s Web site praises a long list of Christian terrorists who have been convicted of violent crimes, including Paul Jennings Hill (who was executed by lethal injection in 2003 for the murders of abortion provider John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett), Scott Roeder (who was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2009 shooting of George Tiller, a Kansas doctor who performed late-term abortions), Michael Frederick Griffin (who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn, an ob/gyn based in Pensacola, Florida), James Charles Kopp (who shot and killed Barnett Slepian, a physician who performed abortions, in 1998), Matthew Lee Derosia (who, in 2009, rammed his SUV into the front entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul and told police that Jesus ordered him to carry out that attack) and John C. Salvi (who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1994, shooting and killing receptionists Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols and wounding several others).  hitler1Adolf Hitler is another example of radical Christianity– why else do you think he killed all of those Jews?! Hitler was a Christian who had a twisted interpretation of bible scripture who actually believed that he was doing the will of God. 

Kingdom Identity Ministries is another example of radical Christianity and is one of the largest suppliers of so-called Christian Identity materials that present a racist interpretation of Christianity. Their products include training books, pamphlets, and Bible study courses. Their mission to preserve the white race encourages white women to reproduce only within their race and encourages the superiority of the white male as interpreted from the Bible.   America’s Promise Ministries is another radical Christian group that relies strongly on the literal interpretation of the Bible. This church also insists that Jesus was white and believes that all greatness achieved in the United States is attributed to the work of the white race and none other. Several members of this congregation have committed violent acts of terrorism and murder, including abortion clinic bombings, bank robberies, and shootings.

There’s NO “right” religion because neither God or His son Yeshua formed ANY them, they are ALL man-made, including Christianity. The Sharia law AT LEAST is nothing less than the enforcement of keeping moral laws but in this country that claims to be “founded on Christianity [whatever that means]” there is NO ENFORCEMENT of keeping moral laws, much less what’s written. People who identify themselves as Christians support EVERYTHING THAT’S EVIL by not actively standing against it… abortion, same-sex marriage, organ harvesting, church pimping, sexual immorality, telling “white lies”etc. and this evil began in the 1st century with Simon Magus during the time of Christ. No, Im not a Muslim- I’m not affiliated with ANY religion, I AM FREE to worship God in truth and in spirit with no religion involved that would take me off of the path of righteousness and keep me from speaking against and opposing all evil. But to all of you involved in religious wars, remember this- “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand [Mathew 12:25]…And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand [Mathew 12:24} .. Those “houses” and “kingdoms” are in reference to different religions. ALL RELIGIONS are divided which is why there are various denominations or sects of EVERY RELIGION in existence, and according to Christ NONE OF THEM WILL STAND! Not even Christianity. If any Christian says that he/she wants to “expose deception and turn people to Christ” he/she can began with looking into the origin of Christianity and all of the filth and evil associated with it.  

Somalia Suffers Worst Terrorist Attack in its History

Heartbreaking stories have been emerging from Somalia in the wake of the bombing…

At least 276 people have died in a deadly bomb attack on Saturday in what is being called Somalia’s worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

BBC News reports that the massive bombing occurred in a busy part of Mogadishu, the country’s capital. No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, although the al-Shabaab terrorist group is known for targeting the region.  

“The family is so shocked, especially our father who travelled all the way from London to attend her graduation, but instead he attended her burial,” said Maryam’s sister, Anfa’a.

Witnesses and survivors of the attack say it was unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Local resident Muhidin Ali said it was “the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area.”

“What happened yesterday was incredible, I have never seen such a thing before, and countless people lost their lives. Corpses were burned beyond recognition,” added Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, the director of the Madina Hospital in Mogadishu.

Only 111 of the dead have been identified by family members. One hundred sixty-five others will be given a national mass funeral and buried by the government.

Heartbreaking stories have been emerging from Somalia in the wake of the bombing. One victim, Maryam Abdullahi, had been in medical school and was due to graduate the day after the bombing took place.

Maryam’s father had flown to Mogadishu to celebrate her graduation, but instead ended up mourning her death.

written by Veronica Neffinger

Bodies of 21 Christians Found Beheaded by ISIS in Mass Grave in Libya

In February 2015, ISIS had posted a video online of the beheadings, which sparked air strikes from Egypt against ISIS units in Libya.  

The bodies of 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by ISIS have been found in a mass grave in Libya, according to Libya’s interior ministry.

The men had been killed more than two years ago on a beach near Tripoli, the Agence French Presse reported. In February 2015, ISIS had posted a video online of the beheadings, which sparked air strikes from Egypt against ISIS units in Libya.  

ISIS fighters had kidnapped the Christians in separate incidents in Libya from December 2014 to January 2015, The Christian Post reported.

“The heads are separated from the bodies clad in orange jumpsuits, hands bound behind the back with plastic wire,” said the Libya’s interior ministry unit for fighting organized crime in the city of Misurata.

Authorities found out about the mass grave after ISIS prisoners confessed to the killings.

Twenty of the bodies were determined to be of Egyptian descent, while one body was found to be of an unknown African nationality. The remains have been transferred to Misurata for forensic examination.

Egyptian officials have been notified of the finding of the remains, which will be returned to Egypt.

Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced seven people to death over links to ISIS units in northwest Egypt and the killings.

Earlier this year, International Christian Concern reported that the relatives of those who were killed were proud that their family members stood up to ISIS in the name of Christ.

One wife said her husband “kept the faith, and was martyred for Christ.”

“His faith was very strong,” she said. “I’m proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians.”

Mass Trials of Over 6,600 Boko Haram Suspects Accused of Slaughtering Christians and Children Begin

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported on some of Boko Haram’s most disturbing practices in August, when it warned that there has been an alarming rise in the number of children being used as “human bombs” in attacks.

(PHOTO: EMMANUEL BRAUN/REUTERS)Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015.

The mass trials of over 6,600 suspects believed to be members of Islamic radical group Boko Haram have begun in Nigeria, and are being carried out in secret by civilian court judges at a military facility in Kainji town.

As BBC News reported, close to 20,000 people have been slaughtered in Boko Haram’s insurgency in the country, which began in 2009.

The terror group has slaughtered Christians, Muslims, children, and many other civilians in their war against the government, with a driven mission to eradicate Christianity from the country.

Up to 1,670 people suspected of being part of the terror group are being tried in the coming weeks, with another 5,000 people awaiting trial after that.

The Nigerian army said that the terrorists have lost significant ground in the country over the past year, with kidnapping victims, such as the Chibok Christian girls who were taken in April 2014, finally being rescued.

Some human rights advocates have warned that the secrecy of the trials could undermine efforts for justice, however.  

“Does the judiciary have the capacity to give so many people charged with very serious offences a fair trial? Have the authorities really captured a quarter of their combat strength? Are they taking into account the fact that a lot of those who committed violence for Boko Haram did so under duress? All these are red flags and very concerning in terms of the broader strategy,” said Ryan Cummings, a South Africa-based expert, according to The Guardian.

Only 13 Boko Haram suspects to date have been put on trial, official figures have said, with nine convicted of aiding the Islamic radicals.

Christian groups have long called for Boko Haram members to be brought to justice.

Laolu Akande, then the executive director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, told The Christian Post following the 2014 Chibok girls kidnapping:

Boko Haram has been kidnapping little girls who are Christians, trying to turn them into sex slaves, trying to convert them by force. Their strategy is to marry the girls and kill the men. So what they have done by kidnapping these female students, it is another demonstration of the impunity with which Boko Haram has been running its terrorist activities.

“We are just totally, completely appalled that the Nigerian federal government continues to show itself totally incompetent to bring these people to justice and to halt these very pernicious, despicable activities.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported on some of Boko Haram’s most disturbing practices in August, when it warned that there has been an alarming rise in the number of children being used as “human bombs” in attacks.

“Children have been used repeatedly in this way over the last few years and so far this year, the number of children used is already four times higher than it was for all of last year,”

UNICEF said in a statement.

“Since Jan. 1, 83 children have been used as ‘human bombs’; 55 were girls, most often younger than 15 years old; 27 were boys, and one was a baby strapped to a girl,” it added.

“The use of children in this way is an atrocity.”

[written by Stoyan Zaimov]

‘No dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims’

“there is no dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims.”

An eminent Islamic scholar, Fadilat Sheikh Dairu Bauchi has reiterated the strong bond that exists among Muslims, especially in Nigeria, saying,

“there is no dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims.”

Bauchi, who was in Lagos as guest speaker at a special programme organised by Nasrul Lahi L Fatih Society, (NASFAT) to mark the 57th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, said his visit to NASFAT was an indication that a firm love exists between the southern and northern Muslims.

In his speech which was delivered in both Hausa and Arabic languages, translated into English, the renowned cleric advised Muslims to further seek unity, love and collaboration with fellow faithful irrespective of their residence, tribe, ethnicity or location.

The scholar commended NASFAT for using the platform to enhance the image of Islam within and outside the country.He ended his speech by praying fervently for Nigeria’s unity, growth and development.

The Acting Chief Missioner, NASFAT, Imam Mahroof Onike AbdulAzeez expressed the society`s appreciation to the erudite Islamic cleric for accepting NASFAT`s invitation.

He later assured him that NASFAT would continue to work in fostering peace and unity between the Ummah and the entire Nigerians.The highlight of the special event was the presentation of the society prayer book and other souvenirs to the highly revered Shiekh by the leadership of the society.

Muslim Man Who Beheaded Coworker Told Investigators: Allah ‘Wants Us to Get the Oppressors Out’

“You know the Muslim is somebody who submits their will to Allah … Whatever he wants done, that’s what we do,” Alton Nolen, now 33, told police in 2014. “And you know he wants us to get the oppressors out of this place.”

NORMAN, Okla. — A Muslim man from Oklahoma who beheaded his coworker three years ago after being suspended from the job told investigators that Allah “wants us to get the oppressors out,” as per recorded audio played during his trial on Wednesday.

He said that he acted out because he felt he was being treated differently by his coworkers because he is a follower of Islam. “I don’t feel regret, because you know what I’ve done,” Nolen stated. “That’s probably going to make Vaughan Foods a better place to work for a Muslim.”  

In Sept. 2014, days following his suspension from Vaughan Foods over alleged comments about Caucasians, Nolen entered the front office, where he encountered Colleen Huffort and began attacking her with a knife.

“He did kill Colleen and did sever her head,” police spokesperson Jeremy Lewis stated in a press release following the incident.

Nolen then began attacking coworker Traci Johnson who caught the attention of others in the building with her screaming. One of those who heard Johnson’s cries for help was Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughn, who also served as an Oklahoma county reserve deputy. Being armed at the time, he shot Nolen, saving Johnson’s life.  

“This was not going to stop if he didn’t stop it,” Lewis remarked. “It could have gotten a lot worse.”

Others in the building locked themselves in their offices and called 911. Police arrived on the scene minutes later.

Nolen was hospitalized and was interviewed by police while in the hospital.

On Wednesday, Johnson was one of those who testified in court for the prosecution. She explained that she heard Huffort screaming like bloody murder and hurried to see what was wrong.

“When I saw the defendant, I was frozen,” she said. “I couldn’t move. And I saw the knife with the blood, … and he made a mad dash toward me and pushed me up against the wall and held me up with his forearm against the wall and just started splicing my neck.”

“He wouldn’t stop,” Johnson recalled. “He was just going back and forth like he was cutting a piece of meat.”  The trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, when the defense will be provided the opportunity to make their case. They believe Nolen should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

“It’s all in the context of what legally insane means. And that is [if Nolen] didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, and didn’t know the consequences of his actions,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told News9. “And clearly he knew what he did was wrong.”

Reports state that Nolen has a criminal past as he was convicted in 2011 on drug charges and for assaulting a police officer. He spent two years behind bars for his crimes before being released on probation. His Facebook page also was stated to contain “provocative” content that is Islamic in nature and critical of the United States.

[written by Heather Clark]

A Christian Man in Pakistan was Sentenced to Death for Sharing “Blasphemous” Material on WhatsApp

since his death sentence, fear has swept across the Christian community in the area. We rarely venture out of our house and live in constant fear. We know that anything can happen to us.

DW talks to his brother about the court conviction and the plight of minorities in Pakistan.

On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing “blasphemous messages” on WhatsApp’s text messaging service.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Pakistan Nadeem James (DW/S. Khan)Nadeem James

 

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan’s Islamic identity.

Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

One of Pakistan’s most high profile blasphemy cases is that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was found guilty of committing blasphemy while working in the fields in 2009 and was sentenced to death. In 2014, her death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court. Amnesty International called the verdict a “grave injustice.”  In one case, a young girl between the ages of 10 to 14 years with Down syndrome, was accused in August of 2012 of burning pages upon which verses of the Koran were inscribed. Rimsha Masih was taken into police custody and only released months later, when charges were dropped. The case caused an uproar in her home town and beyond and sparked riots and violence against Christians in the region. In 2013, she and her family relocated to Canada.

In 2014, a Christian couple was beaten to death for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran. Their bodies were subsequently burned in a brick kiln.

Read more: Pakistan journalism student latest victim of blasphemy vigilantes

In an interview with DW, James’ brother, Faryaad Masih, rejects blasphemy allegations against his brother and says his family has been living in constant fear since James’ arrest in July 2016.

DW: You deny that your brother, Nadeem James, sent blasphemous messages through WhatsApp. Do you have any proof to substantiate your claims?

Faryaad Masih: Police say that my brothers sent blasphemous material through WhatsApp but those messages could easily have been sent by James’ Muslim friends through his phone. Actually, the main complainant in the case is the one who forwarded those messages.

Why would James’ friends make false allegations against him?

James has three friends who live in the Gujarat area. Their names are Shakeel, Yasir and Akram. Our neighbor’s daughter, Nargis, fell in love with James although she knew that he is married with two children. His friends told him he could only marry Nargis if he converted to Islam although the girl had no problem with James’ religion. My brother refused to convert to Islam, and that created a rift among friends.

How did the people in the area react after the “blasphemy” news broke?

As soon as the news spread on July 4, last year, a crowd of around 200 people surrounded our houses. James, another brother of mine and I were at work at the time. When we came to know about this, we went into hiding. The mob was ready to set our houses on fire, but police stopped them.

James surrendered after two days but our family had to move to another area for safety. It saddens me that people with whom we had lived for over 17 years became our enemies after the incident.

Are you still afraid?

After James’ arrest things became quite normal. But since his death sentence, fear has swept across the Christian community in the area. We rarely venture out of our house and live in constant fear. We know that anything can happen to us.

Pakistan Lahore Protest Trauer nach Anschlag Christenverfolgung (picture-alliance/dpa/I. Sheikh)Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination

 

Who is providing you legal help?  No one is helping us. Our cattle have been stolen. I ran a furniture shop with a Muslim friend who gave me only 40,000 rupees [316 euros] for furniture worth over 250,000 rupees [1,977 euros]. When I demanded more money, he started threatening me. Our neighbors don’t talk to us and people in the area are reluctant to interact with us.

Do you plan to appeal James’ death sentence?

We are hiring a new lawyer through a non-governmental organization. We will appeal against his conviction and pray for his release. Our previous lawyer did not defend James properly. He did not even ask the court to investigate how the blasphemous message originated.

What kinds of problems do Christians have to face in Pakistan?

James told me about a 14-year-old Christian girl in his jail who has been convicted of blasphemy. How can such a young girl commit such a thing? There is no justice for Christians in Pakistan.

What sort of help are you expecting from Pakistan’s civil society over James’ issue?

We are poor people. Mine and James’ wives have also been implicated in a false case of abetment. I am an illiterate person, so is James. He did not complete his primary education. His friends framed him. The authorities should take notice of our situation.

The interview was conducted by Sattar Khan, DW’s Islamabad correspondent.