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New Bishop for the North West Frontier of Pakistan: CEN 2.05.10 p 8. February 11, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan.

The Church of Pakistan has elected a new bishop for the troubled North West Frontier. The Rev. Humphrey Peters was elected last month to succeed the Rt. Rev. Mano Ramulsah, who retired at Christmas.

A long time lay leader in the Church of Pakistan, Bishop-elect Peters was ordained to the diaconate on July 5, 2009 by Letters Dimissory of the Bishop of Peshawar by the Bishop of Buckingham in St Mary’s, Aylesbury, and to the priesthood last fall by Bishop Ramulshah.

The former General Secretary of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop-elect Peters has also served as the church’s delegate to the Anglican Consultative Council. His election comes amidst a rising tide of physical persecution for Christians in Pakistan at the hands of Muslim extremists, and state facilited legal attacks through the country’s Blasphemy Laws, which critics say are used by unscrupulous Muslims to attack business and social rivals in the Christian community.

Last month, the Pakistan National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) reported that a Christian shopkeeper was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined £750 for desecrating the Koran.

The general secretary of the NCJP Peter Jacob told the Compass Direct News service that Imran Masih (22) of Faisalabad was convicted of the crime of desecrating the Koran and insulting Islam on Jan 11.

He had been accused by a rival shopkeeper, a member of a Islamist militant group, of burning pages of the Koran. Masih denied the charge saying he had been burning old shop records. Compass Direct reported that Masih’s family said the charges were fabricated by the rival shopkeeper to put Masih out of business.

Section 295-B of Pakistan’s legal code governing the desecration of the Koran carries a sentence of life imprisonment, while blaspheming Mohammad under Section 295-C carries the death sentence. A single witness is sufficient under the code to warrant the imprisonment under the Blasphemy Laws.

Civil liberties and religious groups have urged Pakistan to reform its Blasphemy Laws, and government leaders have promised to reform the laws, but no action has taken place so far.

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