PAKISTAN – CHRISTIAN MINORITY RIGHTS ACTIVIST FALSELY IMPRISONED (Mr. Joseph Francis)

Mr. Joseph Francis , national director of the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a Pakistani Christian organization that provides legal help for persecuted Christians, was arrested and jailed in July with two other men. The arrests were in connection with a young woman called Roma who was brought to the CLAAS offices in 2006 by her Christian family after she converted to Islam and married a Muslim. The family hoped that CLAAS would be able to explain the implications of her conversion and persuade her to return to Christianity. For more than two decades CLAAS have been defending Christians, especially in relation to cases of the forced conversion of Christian girls to Islam. In this case, however, it seems the girl had converted willingly. Having talked with her, Mr Francis could only advise the parents that they could not insist on their daughter remaining within the Christian community. But some months later, she filed a claim against Mr Francis and others, allegedly claiming that they had detained her against her will at the CLAAS centre, mistreated her, attempted to set her on fire and forced her to revert to Christianity. In late July, the men were released, though they may have to face further hearings. • Thank the Lord that Mr Francis and his colleagues have been released from their imprisonment. • Please pray that our brothers will be fully acquitted, and for strength and peace as they recover from their ordeal. • The ministry of CLAAS has faced repeated opposition because of its work to defend vulnerable Christians, and this incident is just the latest example. Pray that the Lord will protect the whole staff and enable them to continue with their vital work.

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