COUNTRY: Pakistan


CHARGE: Blasphemy (death penalty)

CASE: Arrested in June 2009 after engaging in a discussion about her Christian faith with co-workers




11 May 2016:  "Save my mother from death row"   

01AsiaDaughter“Save my mother from death row”- A fervid plea from daughter of Asia Bibi

Posted by Madeeha Bakhsh On May 07, 2016 

Eisham Ashiq, daughter of Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian woman on death row over a blasphemy conviction, made an earnest plea in New York calling upon the international community and world’s influential leaders saying “Save my mother from death row.”

Eisham Ashiq was addressing the #WeareN Congress 2016 where she detailed the plight of her mother and family followed by the blasphemy accusation in 2009.

Eisham Ashiq attended the #WeareN Congress along with her father Ashiq Masih at the United Nations in New York. On April 30, Eisham and Ashiq spoke to the audience at the United Nations and narrated the events surrounding Asia Bibi’ accusation, arrest, court proceedings, death threats to the attendees.

During their visit to the US they met with Chairman of Pakistani Christian Association USA- William Shahzad, Advocate James Cyprian and few others over a dinner. They flew back to Pakistan on May 1.The #WeAreN2016 Congress was held from April 28-30 at the United Nations in New York. The congress primarily focused on “Defending religious freedom and other human rights: Stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers.”Experts on religious persecution gathered from all across the globe to take part in this event. The attendees discussed and evaluated the rising trends in religion-based persecution of Christians and other religious communities all over the world. Countries including Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, were under special emphasis.

During this conference, the victims of the atrocities being carried out on religious grounds explained their ordeals. People from Middle East and other countries attended this event to share the stories of their ordeal.50-year-old, Asia Bibi has been on death row since she was convicted of committing blasphemy. She was accused of committing blasphemy in June 2009 by her fellow-workers. In 2010, Session’s Court in District Nankana, ruled capital punishment for Asia Bibi. Her defense lawyers filed an appeal against the decision while she remained in police custody since then. However, on July 22, the Supreme Court of Pakistan temporarily halted her execution, citing a lack of evidence against her.

Asia Bibi who is probably the most famous prisoner of the country, is the only woman in Pakistan who is on death row. As she linger’s along, waiting for a hearing date at the Supreme Court of Pakistan for an appeal against her death sentence, life has become no less than tribulation for her.

See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/save-my-mother-from-death-row-a-fervid-plea-from-daughter-of-asia-bibi/#sthash.GtMZZsfQ.dpuf  

9 March 2016:  Conspiracy to kill Asia Bibi in prison   

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 8, 2016 (Morning Star News) – Fears are growing over the security of the first Christian woman in Pakistan sentenced to death for “blasphemy” following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated her biggest advocate.

Qadri was executed by hanging on Feb. 29 for the Jan. 4, 2011 assassination of Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer, who had criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and advocated for the release of Aasiya Noreen, widely known as Asia Bibi. She has been on death row since she was convicted in 2010 of blaspheming during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
‎A senior Punjab government official confided to Morning Star News that Noreen’s security had been beefed up following intelligence reports that Islamist groups are conspiring to get her killed inside prison to avenge the hanging of Qadri. Taseer had called the country’s controversial blasphemy statute “a black law” and demanded freedom for the Christian mother of two children and stepmother to three others.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media, the senior government source said that there was already a bounty on Noreen’s head of approximately 50 million rupees (US$$471,000), and that now that Islamist groups were calling for her swift execution, the government was exercising extreme caution to protect her.
“The government is doing its best to keep Noreen safe,” the official said. “Only her husband is allowed to meet her in jail, and she has been told to cook her own food to prevent any attempt at poisoning her meals. All guards deployed for her security have been carefully vetted by intelligence agencies and other security outfits to ensure that they are not extremists in their belief.”
He added that the government would not succumb to Islamists’ pressure at any cost.
“Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging is a message to all those who take the law into their own hands in the name of religion,” the official said.
Islamic extremists feted Qadri, showered with rose petals at his trial, as a hero and martyr, and his funeral last week brought up to 150,000 people into the streets of Rawalpindi, many chanting for Noreen to be hanged.
On Thursday (March 3), the chief cleric of Islamabad’s ultra-extremist Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, called on the government to execute “the blasphemer Asia Bibi as soon as possible and not bow to international pressure.”
Islamist pressure is growing every day, said a Christian activist who requested anonymity.
“The other day gold traders in Lahore announced that they would weigh Qadri’s father in gold on March 27, the day the assassin’s 40-day mourning completes, to acknowledge his service to Islam and its prophet,” the activist said. “I believe that the underlying message for Islamist youth is that their families will be taken care of properly if they kill any alleged blasphemer, particularly Noreen.”
Much prayer is needed for Noreen and other victims of the blasphemy law, he said.
“You never know, but the increasing pressure on the government could also have an effect on the hearing of her appeal in the Supreme Court,” he added.  
Noreen’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, said she is being held in isolation and under strict security.
“But calls for her speedy execution have increased the risk to her life manifold,” he said.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone convicted of blasphemy, but anyone charged or accused of insulting Islam risks a violent death at the hands of vigilantes. A Christian laborer and his wife were thrown into the furnace of a brick kiln in 2014 after being wrongly accused of throwing pages of the Quran into the garbage.
Critics, including European governments, assert the blasphemy laws are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or death by hanging.
Concerns for Noreen’s safety come as a Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber on Monday (March 7) detonated explosives in a courthouse in Charsadda, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, killing at least 17 people, including policemen and a woman. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, saying in a statement that the attack was carried out to “avenge” the execution of Qadri.
Most of those killed were from the Barelvi movement within Islam, a relatively moderate group said to oppose violence, though Qadri’s execution had also upset Barelvis. No Christians were reported to have died in the attack.
Surge in Blasphemy Cases
An alliance of hundreds of lawyers is behind a rise in prosecutions of blasphemy cases in Punjab, according to a recent report.
The alliance, Tehreek-e-Khatam-e-Nabuvat (Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood), offers free legal advice to complainants and has packed courtrooms with representatives, a tactic critics say is designed to help it gain convictions.
The stated mission of the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat lawyers’ forum and its leader, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or its prophet, Muhammad, is charged, tried and executed.
‎Since Khatam-e-Nubuwwat was founded 15 years ago, the number of criminal blasphemy cases filed in Punjab, the group’s home base and Pakistan’s most populous province, tripled to 336 by 2014, according to police figures. It fell to 210 in 2015 as stricter provincial rules were applied, but critics said the number was still too high.
The same group prosecuted Noreen and later defended Qadri during his trial. The Islamist lawyers are now rallying religious groups to call for Noreen’s execution.
Napolean Qayyum, a Christian rights activist, told Morning Star News that he wouldn’t be surprised if the forum’s lawyers storm the Supreme Court during the hearing of Noreen’s appeal against her death sentence.
“Fear and intimidation is the extremists’ greatest weapon, and they might use such tactics to intimidate the judges and pressure them into upholding Noreen’s execution,” he said, adding that fears for Noreen’s security inside the prison were well founded as thousands of Qadri’s supporters are baying for her blood to “avenge” their hero’s death.
“We just hope that the government and the court do not cower under Islamists’ pressure,” he said. “Noreen has been suffering in jail for nearly six years; it’s about time that she is judged fairly by the court. We urge the government to take notice of the provocative announcements being made by religious groups. Inciting people to resort to violence is a criminal offense, and the government must not spare religious leaders who are encouraging Muslim youths to follow in Qadri’s footsteps and kill ‘blasphemers.’” 

SOURCE: http://morningstarnews.org/



24 JULY 2015:  Court Suspends Asia Bibi's Death Sentence   


A three-member bench of the Lahore Supreme Court has granted leave to appeal to Aasia Bibi and stated that it is essential to examine her case for administration of justice.  The Supreme Court has also suspended the decision of the High Court which had upheld her death sentence granted from the lower court.  

The court raised an objection over the 11-day- delay in filing the appeal. However, it said that this objection would be taken up in the next hearing of the case. The court also asked if Bibi is in jail.  

Asia Bibi, 49, - a mother of five -  has been behind bars for the last six years, and was once attacked. According to she is still suffering from medical issues.

Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 when she was found guilty by the lower court of making blasphemous remarks during an argument with a Muslim woman working on the same fields.

Bibi was represented by her lawyer Mr Saiful Malook, while CLAAS’s lawyers Tahir Bashir and Rubina were also present in the court. 

Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS)  has been representing Bibi in court in the past, and is still campaigning for her release.  Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that although today was a preliminary hearing, the suspension of the high court's death sentence is a relief. 

"I believe that justice will be done by the Supreme Court and soon she will be freed.

"The misuse of the blasphemy law is widespread in Pakistan and people are using this law to settle  personal scores and here are many innocent people who are suffering and languishing in prions for years because of its continuous misuse, while several people have been killed by vigilantes."

In 2011, two high profile politicians - the then Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer and the only Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed by extremists. 

But the government still failed to bring changes or at least introduce safeguards to stop the misuse of this controversial law. 

"The world seems concerned about the misuse of the blasphemy law and there are several Pakistani and non-Pakistani organisation who are campaigning for its repeal," concluded Mr Saeed. 

International Christian Concern’s (ICC) Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, reported as follows on their news release:

"The court's decision to grant Asia Bibi's appeal is great news for both Asia Bibi and Pakistan's Christian community. Pakistan's blasphemy laws are widely abused by extremists seeking to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred against the country's vulnerable religious minorities. Historically, pressure from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians has made courts in Pakistan little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case. Today's decision by the Supreme Court shows that at least Pakistan's highest court is willing to resist these pressures and decide Bibi's case on the merits. If decided on the merits, ICC believes that the court's only conclusion will be to acquit. That decision will lay a foundation for practical steps towards religious harmony in Pakistan and will be a signal that justice will prevail over extremism and intolerance in Pakistan's courts even when a religious minority is accused of blasphemy. "


  • PRAY that Asia and the family will place their hope in the Lord and not is the system
  • PRAY for her legal team for boldness, courage and safety
  • PRAY for a peace that will pass all understanding, even though circumstances might indicate differently.
  • PRAY that the Lord will be glorified as Christians unite globally with hearts of compassion
  • PRAY that Asia will soon be united with her family 

SOURCE:   www.claas.org.uk

About CLAAS:

Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level.



 20 JULY 2015:  Asia Bibi's last chance to appeal   

International Christian Concern has confirmed that Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy, will be given one last appeal to avoid execution in Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has set the appeal date for Wednesday starting at 9:00 a.m. Pakistan time.

Human rights and religious freedom organizations, consider Bibi's case symbolic of the persecution faced by Christians in Pakistan and of how the country's blasphemy laws are widely abused.

"The hearing will take place on July 22nd in Lahore," Saif-Ul-Malook, Bibi's Supreme Court Advocate told ICC. "I am very much sure and optimistic that the honorable Supreme Court will acquit Bibi. The evidence available as the record is, is not sufficient evidence for the Islamic standards of evidence to sustain the conviction."

Bibi has been on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Session's Court in District Nankana, Pujab, in 2010. Her appeal hearing was delayed and rescheduled seven times but was finally held October 16, 2014 at the Lahore High Court. At that appeal, Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, one member of a two-judge bench hearing the appeal, passed a short order confirming Bibi's death sentence.

This Supreme Court appeal represents Bibi's last chance to avoid execution through Pakistan's court system. At the hearing scheduled on Wednesday the Supreme Court will decide whether to "grant or reject" Bibi's appeal.

If granted, the Supreme Court will set a future date for Bibi's appeal over the course of several hearings before deciding whether to uphold or overturn her death sentence. If the death sentence is upheld, Bibi's only chance of avoiding execution would be through a presidential pardon, a power granted to Pakistan's President in Article 45 of Pakistan's Constitution.

"The case against Asia Bibi is one of the best examples of how Christians and other religious minorities are abused in Pakistan by fundamentalists wielding Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws were originally written to protect against religious intolerance in Pakistan, but the law has warped into a tool used by extremists and others to settle personal scores or spread religious hatred against Pakistan's vulnerable religious minorities," said William Stark, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia. "Sadly, the vast majority of blasphemy accusations brought against Christians and others are false. Pressure from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan has transformed courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case."

The blasphemy accusation against Bibi originates from a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim women became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslim women. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim women ensued and later the Muslim women reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against Islam by saying, "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammed do for you?"

In April 2014, ICC held a press conference on "The Hope and Peril of Religious Minorities in Pakistan" at the National Press Club. As part of that hearing ICC highlighted Bibi's case by reading a letter written by her husband, Ashiq Masih, saying, "Since Asia was sentenced to death in November 2010, my family has lived in constant fear. We are now trying our best to present the final case to the Supreme Court. But we are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the honorable Prime Minister Sharif and President Hussain grant her pardon. No one should be killed only for drinking a glass or water."

Upon learning that the supreme court had scheduled Bibi's appeal, Masih told ICC that, "It is a great pleasure that Asia's appeal hearing has been fixed by the Supreme Court. Our whole family is praying for her release so she may come out of the prison and may live with her children. May God protect her and all our children so that we may live safely and peacefully together."

SOURCE:  International Christian Concern www.persecution.org



 10 JUNE 2015:  Asia Bibi suffering from intestinal bleeding 

The health of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother who was jailed and sentenced to the death penalty in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy, is dwindling, as she now has trouble walking and is also throwing up blood inside of her prison cell, her family has said.

According to a report by The Global Dispatch, the 50-year-old Bibi's family was allowed to visit with her in May, after not being allowed to see her for over a month and noticed that Bibi is "so weak that she can hardly walk."

For Bibi, who is suffering from intestinal bleeding, her health problems are only getting worse and she's in dire need of medical attention, a family source said.

The source added that Bibi's lawyers have taken the legal action necessary for her to get the medical treatment she needs and to have her transferred from the prison in Multan to a prison in Lahore, which is closer to her family and provides better healthcare.

Imprisoned Christian mother of of five, Asia Bibi, is facing the death penalty after being accused of blasphemy in 2009 by angry Muslim women, who were upset that she drank from the same drinking water as them.

"When vomiting there is also shown traces of blood. Asia has difficulty feeding properly, while constant pain in the chest," The Global Dispatch quoted the unnamed family source as saying. "Therefore it is necessary that Asia Bibi be submitted as soon as possible [for] a full medical checkup, including blood work."

Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a leading Pakistani Christian human rights lawyer, told The Christian Post that he also has heard concerns from his colleagues about Bibi vomiting up blood.

"I heard from my colleagues about the dwindling health of Asia Bibi and blood vomitting," Gill said.

Bibi was initially accused of blasphemy in 2009 by a group of Muslim women who were upset that the Christian woman drank from the same water supply as them. Bibi has vehemently denied that she committed any act of blasphemy.

Since then, the mother of five has had to survive the terrible conditions inside of a "dingy" cell for the last five years, where she has had to cook her own food after attempts to poison her failed, Wilson Chowdhry, president of the British Pakistani Christian Association, told CP.

"Asia Bibi has been facing rapidly declining health for some time and we call on Christians to uphold her in their regular prayers," Chowdhry said in a statement. "Asia continues to believe that God will release her from her captivity, however, the Supreme Court hearing date is proving hard to achieve. Many believe the delay is instigated by Pakistani authorities in an attempt to subvert justice through her early demise."

Chowdhry asserted that concerned Christians in the West need to help Bibi by contacting their own government officials and urging them to pressure the Pakistani government to either move up Bibi's Supreme Court hearing or, better yet, release her.

"If Asia Bibi is prevented her opportunity to exonerate her name, it will be viewed as a great travesty of justice and a blight on the reputation of the supposedly democratic nation of Pakistan," Chowdhy continued. "I urge people in the west to challenge their country's leaders to intervene on behalf of Asia and directly email the Prime Minister President of Pakistan, calling for them to expedite her Supreme Court hearing and to ensure she gets adequate treatment for her current poor health."

Please pray for Asia and her family

SOURCE: CHRISTIAN POST:  http://www.christianpost.com/news/imprisoned-christian-mother-asia-bibi-is-so-weak-she-can-hardly-walk-and-vomiting-blood-inside-dingy-pakistani-prison-cell-as-court-delays-blasphemy-hearing-140179/#ZiKd3BVxrTP7YZeY.99



 13 NOVEMBER 2014:  Asia Bibi will apeal death sentence 

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- The lawyer for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five on death row for her Christian faith, says she will appeal her execution sentence to Pakistan's Supreme Court, writes Matthew Clark of the American Center for Law and Justice (www.ACLJ.org).

Clark cites a CNN report which says that Bibi's attorney, Naeem Shakir, told CNN on Monday that he would file an appeal once he had received a detailed copy of the judgment.

"I have a very strong case, I am sure the Supreme Court will provide us with relief. There is no concrete evidence against Asia Bibi, and the courts are only relying on the statement on those two women," Shakir said.

Clark explained in an ACLJ website posting that Asia Bibi was falsely accused of "blasphemy" in 2009 over a cup a drinking water that the Muslim women she was picking fruit with deemed unclean because she was a Christian. Last week an appeals court upheld her 2010 conviction and death sentence under Pakistan's Shariah blasphemy law.

Clark says Asia Bibi's case could continue to drag on at the Supreme Court, as she is the first woman sentenced to be hung under this barbaric law.

He writes: "She's already suffered for five years in prison. She has a price on her head. Her husband and children remain in hiding. Often in these cases, someone accused of blasphemy does not even live until their execution sentence is carried out as radicals execute the prisoner themselves."

Already, two individuals, including a prominent Christian government official, have been murdered for even speaking out for Asia Bibi, Clark said.

Clark went on to state that Asia Bibi's attorney has shared his fear that his life too may be in danger for even representing her. The attorney stated, "I do feel threatened. Even in the court, there were some two dozen people who were against Asia Bibi."

Clark added: "At the ACLJ, we've mobilized through our office on the ground in Pakistan and at the United Nations to fight for her freedom. We're also working with Members of Congress to aggressively pressure the Pakistani government, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, to stop this abhorrent execution sentence, release Asia Bibi, and ensure the safety of her and her family."

He concluded: "In addition, we're preparing to deliver a letter outlining the grave abuse of human rights that Asia Bibi's death sentence represents and demanding that she be immediately freed."





 17 OCTOBER 2014:  Death sentence upheld


LAHORE, Pakistan, October 16, 2014 (Morning Star News) – In spite of protests within Pakistan and abroad against the country’s blasphemy laws, the Lahore High Court today upheld the death sentence for a Christian mother accused of insulting Islam’s prophet.
Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. Arrested in June 2009 after Muslim co-workers in a berry field 60 miles west of Lahore beat her when she refused to convert to Islam, her death sentence was announced in November 2010.
Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News that they were hoping for some relief, but that the verdict had devastated the family.
“I met Asia in prison a month ago,” he said. “She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet.”
Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, told Morning Star News that Justice Anwarul Haq and Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi had rejected her appeal even though there were glaring contradictions in the witnesses’ testimonies.
“I pointed out the conflicting accounts of the prosecution witnesses, as each one of them had a different narrative regarding the exact location where the local village council was convened in which Asia had allegedly confessed that she had spoken ill of Islam’s prophet and sought forgiveness from the villagers,” Shakir said. “There is also discrepancy in the number of people present as each witness gave different figures.”
In addition, the court did not take into account the fact that the First Information Report (FIR) against her was registered six days after the alleged incident, “which clearly shows that the case was a premeditated conspiracy against the Christian woman,” he said.
The lawyer said that the complainant in the case, Qari Salem, was not even present in the berry fields where the alleged incident had occurred.
“One of the witnesses, a female co-worker of Asia named Maafia, used to study the Koran from Salem’s wife, and we believe that she is the one who provoked Salem, a prayer leader of the village’s local mosque, to lodge a case against Asia as she and her sister, Asma, had an altercation with Asia in the berry fields over drinking water from the same bowl,” Shakir said.
Bibi’s appeal had been delayed several times, but he had been confident that the verdict would be overturned, he said.
“I was shocked when the judges decided to uphold the sessions court decision,” he said, adding that the court had said that Noreen’s “confession” before villagers was sufficient evidence while ignoring that any such confession might have been coerced by Muslim mob.
“We will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Given huge backlogs at the court, however, Christian rights lawyers said it would probably be at least three years before the appeal would be taken up.
Islamists Rejoice

The courtroom was packed with clerics and members of Islamist extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Bibi’s appeal.
“Let us celebrate by distributing sweets!” said one cleric who recited verses from the Koran throughout the almost two-and-a-half-hour court proceeding.
“I am very happy,” said Salem, the complainant. “The judges have given a verdict on merit, and Asia deserved it.”
Salem’s lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa said the court’s decision, was correct.
“Asia’s lawyer tried to prove that the case was registered on a personal enmity, but he failed to prove that,” he said.
David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia Pacific director, called the ruling a grave injustice.
“Asia Bibi should never have been convicted in the first place – still less sentenced to death – and the fact that she could pay with her life for an argument is sickening,” he said in a press statement. “There were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial, and her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed.”
The ruling is the latest chapter in a long ordeal for Bibi, whose case has focused international attention on how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a weapon against religious minorities.
While Bibi’s death sentence led to international protests, the possibility of overturning it provoked outrage within Pakistan. Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was slain by his bodyguard on Jan. 4, 2011 because of his support for Bibi and his criticism of the blasphemy law; the bodyguard believed Taseer, a Muslim, had blasphemed by criticizing the law.
Meeting with Bibi after her sentencing in 2010, Taseer had told her he believed the charges against her were fabricated and promised to recommend a presidential pardon. He called Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes “a black law” and called for their repeal.
Former Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Christian, cabinet-level minister, was shot and killed on March 2, 2011 for calling for reforms to blasphemy laws following Bibi’s trial.
“The laws are often used to settle personal vendettas – both against members of minority religious groups and Muslims – while individuals facing charges are frequently targeted in mob violence,” Griffiths said. “Those who speak out against the laws face terrible reprisals. However, the blasphemy laws violate international law and must be repealed or reformed immediately to meet international standards.”
Death sentences have rarely been carried out in blasphemy cases, but that is in part because such allegations have frequently led to deadly vigilante attacks on the accused or their lawyers. Pakistan is nearly 96 percent Muslim, according to Operation World, and religiously charged court cases commonly involve clamoring crowds of Muslims and other pressures coming to bear on lawyers and judges. Christians make up 2.45 percent of the population.
Mother of two children and stepmother to three others, Bibi was convicted under Section 295-C of the defamation statutes for alleged derogatory comments about Muhammad, which is punishable by death, though life imprisonment is also possible. Pakistan put a de facto moratorium on executions into place in 2008, though one person has been executed since then.
In the harvest fields of Ittan Wali in June 2009, her co-workers objected to her touching the container for the water she had fetched, saying that her Christian faith made it impure for them, and they told her to convert to Islam, according to her husband. Her objections were taken as blasphemy, and they beat her before dragging her to a police station, he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has stated that Christians and Ahmadis, a minority sect within Islam, are vulnerable to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law, according to The New York Times. More than 20 men have been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law, most of them Christians, though none have been executed, human rights groups say.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been routinely misused to settle personal scores with false accusations. Police have found most blasphemy accusations to be false during investigation, but accusers can make innocent victims suffer months in jail with quick and easy registration of such cases.
Of 5,000 cases registered between 1984 and 2004, only 964 people were charged with blasphemy, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. A recent study by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) found that from 1953 to July 2012, there were 434 people blasphemy “offenders” in Pakistan, including 258 Muslims, 114 Christians, 57 Ahmadis and four Hindus.
Those acquitted of blasphemy charges also face threats from homicidal vigilantes. Of 52 people extra-judicially murdered after being charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, 25 were Muslims, 15 were Christians, five were Ahmadis, one was Buddhist and one was Hindu, according to the CRSS report.
Most blasphemy case acquittals take place at the appellate level, after courts have denied bail so often that the accused spend years in jail, as lower courts tend to decide based on fear of violence by Islamist groups rather than on merit.
Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes makes willful desecration of the Koran or a use of its extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment. Section 295-A of the defamation law prohibits injuring or defiling places of worship and “acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class of citizens.” It is punishable by life imprisonment, which in Pakistan is 25 years.
Blasphemy charges against Rimsha Masih, a girl whose mental age was determined to be less than 14 years old, were dismissed on Nov. 20, 2012 after a judge ruled that they were baseless (see Morning Star News, Nov. 20, 2012). She has since been relocated to Canada.








10 SEPTEMBER 2014:  Hearing Postponed Again Until 16 October


Once again, the appeal in the Lahore High Court of Pakistani Christian mother, Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, was postponed until October 16, 2014, but this time at the request of Bibi’s husband.

This will be the seventh time the case has been postponed. Hopes had been running high that finally Bibi would be acquitted and would be able to return to her family.

According to the Pakistan Christian Post, the defence lawyer, Mr. S K Chaudhry, along with the legal team of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) were present in the court, while Mr. Naeem Shakir, another of Ms. Bibi’s defense team, was on leave (out of country).

Also present, said the PCP, was Ashiq Masih (Asia Bibi’s husband) who “requested the court to fix the case for another date as his private lawyer was not present and submitted a written leave application.”

The PCP went on to say that Mr. Justice Anwar-ul- Haq was “in the mood to hear the case” [and] he told all councils that court “will hear the arguments of the lawyer who filed appeal against punishment... he is present and can make arguments,” but Mr. Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi suggested an adjournment of the case due to Mr. Shakir’s submission of the written leave application.

It is also reported that an order was passed in writing that no other adjournment of the case would be permitted.

Bibi, a mother of five, has been in prison since being sentenced to death by a Sheikhupura judge for blasphemy in November 2010. If executed, she would be the first woman in Pakistan to be “lawfully” killed for blasphemy.

 “Asia has always denied that she defiled the name of the prophet Mohammed during an argument with Muslim co-workers, but was convicted following a trial. She was sentenced to death in 2010 and her case attracted national and international attention,” said Nasir Saeed, CLAAS-UK Director.



http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2014/s14090059.htm (article adapted)



9 SEPTEMBER 2014:  Asia Bibi's Hearing Today


Pakistani Christian mother Asia Bibi's appeal hearing on her death sentence for blasphemy has now been set for Tuesday, September 9, 2014, at the Lahore High Court.

Back in May her appeal was postponed for the fifth time, when the counsel for the complainant did not turn up. A hearing on her appeal has been repeatedly delayed, and sources in Pakistan report that the courts have been ordered not to hear her case, for fear of provoking a backlash by the militant Muslims who have demanded her execution.

Now Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Human Rights Defender and Chief of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), a non-governmental organization providing legal aid to marginalized people who are either falsely implicated by the police or unable to afford legal assistance, has told ANS that he is hopeful that her appeal will finally be heard.

“Today (Saturday, September 6, 2014) it is confirmed that the appeal hearing has been fixed for September 9, 2014 in the DB (Division Bench) of Mr. Justice Anwar Ul Haq,” said Mr. Gill.

Bibi, a mother of five, has been in prison since being sentenced to death by a Sheikhupura judge for blasphemy in November 2010. If executed, she would be the first woman in Pakistan to be “lawfully” killed for blasphemy.

The accusation followed a heated dispute with Muslim colleagues. Her trial took place and sentenced her to death.

That death sentence drew international outrage and strong condemnation from human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who saw the blasphemy laws as a form of religious persecution and called for them to be abolished.

Pope Benedict XVI publicly called for clemency for her. In his statement, he described his “spiritual closeness” with Asia Bibi and urged that the “human dignity and fundamental rights of everyone in similar situations” be respected.

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Muslim-majority Pakistan and carries the death sentence, but human rights groups say the charges are often trumped up as a means of settling personal scores and vendettas.

Anyone accused of blasphemy in Pakistan faces threats to their life from extremists. Relatives often have to go into hiding to escape the same fate, and being behind bars doesn't make the accused any safer.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill has asked Christians around the world to “to pray for us and also for Asia Bibi’s appeal acceptance.”

If this occurs, she will then be able to return to her family, but even then, her nightmare may not be over, as she would probably have to go into hiding with her family, as there are those in Pakistan who would like to kill her.

Already, there have been two high profile murders of Pakistan leaders who have been assassinated for standing up for her. They were Christian minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer, the then governor of Punjab, who were both killed for advocating on her behalf and opposing the blasphemy laws.






28 MAY 2014:  Asia Bibi Appeal Hearing Delayed For The Fifth Time


Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi's Tuesday appeal hearing on her death sentence for blasphemy was again cancelled-for the fifth time. No new hearing date has been set.  According to a story by Cath Martin for the online news site Christian Today, Bibi's four previous hearings were also cancelled at the last minute by the court.

Bibi, a mother of five, has been in prison since being sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010. The accusation followed a dispute with Muslim colleagues.

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Muslim-majority Pakistan and carries the death sentence, but human rights groups say the charges are often trumped up as a means of settling personal scores and vendettas.

Anyone accused of blasphemy in Pakistan faces threats to their life from extremists. Relatives often have to go into hiding to escape the same fate, and being behind bars doesn't make the accused any safer.

Christian Today reported that Shahid Khan, vice-chairperson of the Glasgow-based Global Minorities Alliance, said extremists "sometimes march into their prison cell and kill them while the guards turn a blind eye."  The authorities then record the death as being down to "bad health," or just say that the accused was found "mysteriously dead."

Christian Today said Khan fears Bibi's life is "hanging in the balance." He noted that one cleric has put forward a reward of 500,000 Pakistani Rupees, (£3,700, $5,800) for anyone who ends her life.

Khan is anxious that the hearing scheduled for Tuesday should not fall through like all the others. However, the courts are under pressure from extremist and fundamentalist groups.

"The efficiency of any democratic state rests in the institutions that exist to provide unbiased and impartial services to its citizens regardless of their background. Ironically, Pakistan courts succumb to the pressure to provide justice to those accused of blasphemy," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron raised the human rights issue with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his recent visit to the UK, but Khan is sceptical international pressure will be enough to change things for Pakistan's minorities.

In the meantime, Christian Today reported, Pakistan's religious minorities live out their lives with the constant risk of a false blasphemy accusation.

Khan said there has been a "spike" in blasphemy cases recently. He quoted a recent US Commission on International Religious Freedom report, which states there are cur rently 14 people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan and another 19 serving life sentences.

While clerics freely incite hatred against minorities with their preaching, Khan said Pakistani society is also responsible for the entrenchment of radicalism because of the way it celebrates those who kill in the name of upholding Islam.  "There is a shocking culture of putting the murderers on a pedestal, garlanding them and naming a mosque or library after them, lauding their killing as holy," he says.

Christian Today said he added, "This admiration of the 'holy murderers' exacerbates religious intolerance, disunity, and damages any efforts towards peaceful coexistence among people from various faith backgrounds."

Khan added, "This glorification of 'murderers' in Pakistan is a breeding ground for fueling extremism and fundamentalism. Such a societal attitude is a trap for teenage boys who yearn to gain acclaim from others."

Khan is calling instead for a "rational discourse" to promote interfaith harmony an d for peace studies to be included in the national curriculum.

"The culture of persecution against minorities must end and the prosecution of those who misuse blasphemy laws has to be its first priority," Christian Today reported he said.

"Only then is there hope that rule of law will prevail and the Pakistan court will exist to provide justice to Asia Bibi, and those falsely accused of blasphemy."





24 APRIL 2014:  Asia Bibi Appeal Hearing Delayed Again


Appeal proceedings have been delayed again in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. This is the third delay, now coming one month after the delay in March.

According to a story in the Global Dispatch, Lahore High Court Judges Sardar Tariq Masood and Abdul Sami Khan adjourned the case shortly after the hearing begun and arguments presented. Court sources said that a new date for the appeal is expected quickly in a case that began with the woman's arrested back in 2009.

For several months, extremist groups have also been making threats against the judges in order to pressure them to confirm the death penalty imposed by the lower court. However, the woman's lawyers said they remain confident that the High Court will soon overturn her conviction and let her go.

The Global Dispatch reported that recently, Pakistani Christians have promoted days of fasting and prayer on behalf of Asia Bibi and Sawan Masih, both of whom are innocent but sentenced to death under the infamous "black law."

The blasphemy laws say that "whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

In 2009, the Global Dispatch said, Bibi was working for a Muslim landowner on a farm. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and Bibi responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive.

"Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins.Our Christ is alive," she said.

She was then punished, charged with blasphemy and sentenced to hanging.





24 MARCH 2014: Pakistani defender of Human Rights pledges to assist Asia Bibi


Following the shock news that Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother of five, had suffered yet another setback, and remains on "death row" in an isolation cell at the women's prison in Sheikhupura, Punjab, a Pakistani human rights defender has stepped forward to say that he and his organization plan to do all they can to help free Ms. Bibi.

Asia Bibi's appeal hearing was set for Monday, March 17, 2014, but was then suddenly been postponed "to a later date".  The hearing was cancelled at the last moment at the Lahore High Court 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.

Now, Advocate, Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Human Rights Defender, and Chief of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), has stepped forward to pledge the full support of his organization in working towards her freedom.

In a message to the ASSIST News Service, he said that during a meeting of LEAD's legal panel was decided to play a key role in trying to secure the acquittal of Asia Bibi, who was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Muhammad. In 2010, she was sentenced to death under the country's "black law'". Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard.

The High Court in Lahore, where the appeal will eventually be heard, will have to decide whether the Christian woman committed a crime, namely drank a glass of water from a well owned by a Muslim.

As a result of this act, she was accused "of contaminating" the well, which was followed by a row with fellow workers and eventually the indictment for "insulting Muhammad."

Gill, in his message, said that, "LEAD is the only legal aid Christian faith based organization which is not funded by any international organization. So, if any individual or organization, wish to be our partner in this noble cause to defend the defenseless [including Asia Bibi] and [other] members of the persecuted Church in reality, and with true vision and mission in Pakistan, we at LEAD will welcome them."

He went on to say, "Over the months a new strategy by the extremists has come into light. They target particular persons, seek extortion money and intimidate Christians in the name of Islam. At times they even get easily 'Fatwas/Religious decree' [True or false] which does not matter, because they use the overall psyche of the 'Mob', who will not investigate into the allegations made against anybody and will resort to all possible acts of extremism against the accused on the street, even going as far to burn the house of the accused and along with the other Christians.

"The common Muslim claims that it is his right to kill those accused under the blasphemy law and also those who support them."  Since Asia Bibi's conviction, there have been two brutal murders of Pakistani leaders who have supported her case.

The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his own guard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri for supporting Asia Bibi, branding the blasphemy laws "black" and demanding changes. Malik Mumtaz Qadri is still in prison and considered a "hero of Islam" by many in the country.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, was also killed for supporting her and demanding changes in the controversial blasphemy laws, which Christians consider the root cause of their persecution.

Gill closed his message with a prayer request in which he asked for Christians around the world to "to pray for wisdom, resources and courage [for his legal team] to deal [with] and give legal assistance in these sensitive cases."





15 MARCH 2014: Asia's appeal to finally be heard in Pakistan court


The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) has told the ASSIST News Service, that the appeal in the long awaited blasphemy case of Asia Bibi is due to be heard soon.

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother-of-five, was accused of blasphemy by a co-worker and has been languishing in prison since 2009.

Four years after she was convicted and sentence to death, her appeal is due be heard by a double bench at the Lahore High Court on March 17.

"Asia has always denied that she defiled the name of the prophet Mohammed during an argument with Muslim co-workers, but was convicted following a trial. She was sentenced to death in 2010 and her case attracted national and international attention," said Nasir Saeed, CLAAS-UK Director.

Since her conviction, there have been two murders of Pakistan leaders who have supported her case.

The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his own guard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri for supporting Asia Bibi, branding the blasphemy laws "black" and demanding changes. Malik Mumtaz Qadri is still in prison and considered a "hero of Islam" by many in the country.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, was also killed for supporting her and demanding changes in the controversial blasphemy laws, which Christians consider the root cause of their persecution.

CLAAS PK Director, Joseph Francis, MBE, said that Asia's case is fully supported by CLAAS and that he is hopeful that if there is no pressure on the judges by the extremists and the case is handled with care, consideration, and due diligence with the judges being left free to take their decision, her conviction will be overturned.

Nasir Saeed said that it is "not going to be easy" for the judges as it is a very high profile case and the whole world will be watching.

He added: "I pray that God will fill the hearts of the judges with boldness and courage and not allow fear to rule. I also hope that they follow the international norms and keep only justice in the forefront when reaching a decision.

Saeed has also requested the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ to unite remember the judges and lawyers in their prayers, asking that justice is done.

About CLAAS:

The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level. CLAAS provides free legal aid to victims of religious intolerance in Pakistan, as well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.




5 DECEMBER 2013: Asia now more than 1,600 days in prison and getting weaker


The now 42-year old mother has been unjustly accused, since 2009, of insulting Islam. It is a triviality to charge someone and put them in jail for this offense. It may lead to harsh prison sentences. Asia Bibi was sentenced, however, in the first instance by a court, to death. Since then, she is waiting on death row for her appeal. 

For more than 1,600 days Asia Bibi is innocent and in prison. A "wrong" word, refusing to convert to Islam and the trap has snapped shut. Asia Bibi was reported by Muslim women, work colleagues, who were supposed to be friends. But Asia Bibi faces a stigma: she is Christian. The police arrested, allegedly to protect her, because Muslims want to practice their hangman's justice. 

In the first half of June, Asia Bibi was shifted from the high-security prison in Sheikhupura in the women's prison in Multan. For the family members, the trip also means twelve hours for each visit. Rides that always are always made by the family with special precautions to avoid detection, or falling into the hands of Islamists. "It sounds absurd, but the family members are currently living almost a more dangerous life than Asia Bibi behind the terrible prison walls," says a Christian family lawyer. Whoever was able to visit Asia Bibi in the past few months, got to hear the same words: "Please, do everything possible for my freedom. I am strong, but I'm going weaker day by day."





10 JANUARY 2013: Italian Government Appeals on Behalf of Asia Bibi


Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi has given instructions to its embassy in Islamabad to appeal to the Pakistani authorities on behalf of Asia Bibi.

She is the Pakistani Christian woman held since 2009 and condemned to death on the charge of blasphemy.

According to a news release from Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this underscores the Italian government’s expectation that the sentence would be revoked.

Sources at the foreign ministry said Terzi’s intention was to add his voice to that of daily newspaper “Avvenire”, which launched an appeal fully aligned with the efforts that Italy has been making since the start of the Asia Bibi issue.

The news release said that hopes for her immediate release have been expressed to the Pakistani authorities. Terzi personally expressed the same wish in his meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Rabbani Khar during the NATO Summit in Chicago.

The news release said Italy has also been engaged in intense diplomatic efforts in support of Asia Bibi in Brussels within the framework of the strategic EU-Pakistan dialogue.

“The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the EU,” Terzi said in the news release, “in addition to being an outstanding sign of recognition, must also act as a strong incentive to the community institutions’ ever-greater commitment to the defense of human rights and freedom of worship, indispensable preconditions for the peaceful co-existence of peoples.”






18 NOVEMBER 2012: Asia Bibi's Spouse Begs Spain for Asylum


The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy, appealed to Spain on Thursday to help free her and grant her asylum.

According to AFP, Ashiq Masih met with Spain's junior foreign minister Gonzalo de Benito in Madrid and spoke to journalists afterwards alongside Masih's daughter Sidra, 19, one of his and Asia Bibi's five children.

"We are very happy and have great faith that this country will help free my wife," Masih said via an interpreter.

He said the family had received threats since Bibi was sentenced to death in November 2010 after women claimed she insulted the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Bibi is currently in jail pending an appeal.

"She is protected in prison and they are treating her well, but she is having a hard time because she is very far from her family and is suffering psychologically," Masih said.

"We live in hiding in Pakistan and we are very afraid. They say we have blasphemed against Mohammed (PBUH) and that they are going to kill us," he added.

Masih appeared alongside representatives of Hazte Oir, a Spanish Catholic campaign group which organized his visit.

"The group's president Ignacio Arsuaga added that the ministry said 'it is quite prepared to grant asylum as soon as Asia Bibi herself requests it' and was always willing to help in her defense," said the AFP story, adding, "Bibi's sentencing in 2010 sparked an international outcry."





1 SEPTEMBER 2012: Asia's Case Calls for Prudence


The Church in Pakistan said that all of the efforts to prevent the execution of Catholic mother Asia Bibi requires prudence on the part of her defenders.

According to Gaudium Press, the director of the National Committee on Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, Father Emannuel Yousaf Mani, said the concern about the international campaigns to help Bibi is understandable.  “But the life of this woman is very important to us, and we will do nothing to endanger her life...We should wait in silence for the Court to hear her appeal.”

Bibi's case gained worldwide attention in 2010 when she was condemned to death for allegedly violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which state that anyone who offends Islam will be hanged. Critics say the country's blasphemy laws are often unjust and have become a tool for abusing religious minorities as well as vengeance between Muslims.

Bibi is still awaiting a ruling on the appeal of her death sentence and has been moved to an isolated cell without any windows, sink or toilet because of Muslim threats against her life. 

Fr. Yousaf said that caution on the part of the Church in Pakistan arises from concerns that those who “pressured for an indult in favor of Bibi ended up being killed by Muslim extremists.”

A “pardon amidst a climate of contentious public opinion,” he added, “would not necessarily save the lives of Asia Bibi and her family.”

At INcontext, we ask that we honour this request and use the only alternative solution to our disposal, and the most powerful weapon available - LET US PRAY!  




18 JULY 2012: Pakistani Christians Call for Asia Bibi's Release


“Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a country where justice is never ensured to religious minorities” said Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a statement issued by Central Secretariat of PCC here today.

Nazir Bhatti expressed concern over pending of an appeal in Lahore High Court from 2 years of a Christian mother Asia Bibi, sentenced to death on accusations of blasphemy from lower court.

In Islamic Republic of Pakistan judicial activism is so high that thousands of poor Pakistani are behind bars waiting for hearing dates of their appeals in Supreme Court of Pakistan and Provincial High Courts from years.

Nazir Bhatti said “Pakistani Christian have lost their confidence in judicial system, judiciary and higher courts because it protected and released Muslim who attacked Churches, killed worshipers, burnt alive women and children, gunned down pastors, never punished Muslims who filed false blasphemy cases against Christians, never charged Muslim who enforcedly converted Christian women to Islam and gang raped Christian girls after kidnapping”

In recent polls conducted by Pakistan Christian Post, 85% voted for immediate release of Asia Bibi who is under mental stress in security cell of Seikhupura Jail on her long pending appeal in Lahore High Court.

According to sources close to PCP, Ashiq Masih who is husband of Asia Bibi can visit her once a month and her daughters fear to visit their mother after threats from Muslims of their native village that if courts released Asia Bibi, they will kill her and her family.

Nazir Bhatti said that Pakistan Christian Congress PCC file a petition in Lahore High Court to repeal blasphemy law which was dismissed in 1998 but PCC urges Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo-Mottu notice to issue decree on this Islamic law of blasphemy weather it can be imposed on non-Muslims to prove that Justices are on bench od SCP not Mullahas.

Nazir S Bhatti appealed President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon Asia Bibi due to her ill health that she may have medical support.


SOURCE: Pakistani Christian Post




5 APRIL 2012: No Pardon After All


No pardon after all? That’s the latest report regarding Asia Bibi, a 45-year old Pakistani woman sentenced to death for her Christian beliefs.

According to this week’s Washington Post, “Pakistan’s president will not immediately pardon a Christian woman sentenced to die for insulting Islam but may do so later if an appeals court delays her case too long, an official said Thursday.”

Why the change? The article does not say, but does refer to the recent demonstrations in Lahore and other cities where Muslims have protested the original pardon.

I share this for two reasons. First, keep praying for Asia Bibi. She has been in jail for over a year already for allegedly blaspheming Mohammad and her Christian beliefs. Pray specifically for her quick release and to be reunited with her children.

Second, activism works (at least in this situation). Share this on your Facebook and Twitter. Email it to a friend. Get your church, parish, denomination, or other religious groups involved. Add Asia Bibi to every prayer list and petition you can.

Religious freedom is a basic human right for it is one of the most comprehensive of all human endeavors.


SOURCE: Belief.net