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Posts tagged ‘Asia Bibi.’

Should America Intervene In The Defense Of Asia Bibi?

Written by Andrew Linn on December 3, 2018

Over a month ago, a Christian woman in Pakistan named Asia Bibi was acquitted on appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the charge of blasphemy, of which a lower court had sentenced her to death in 2010. Such charges were the result of an argument that Bibi had with some farmhands back in 2009. It started when she went to fetch some water for the other farmhands (who were Muslim) from a well, but before doing so, stopped to take a drink by using a metal cup near the well. Her actions were noticed by the Muslim farmhands, who angrily informed her that it was forbidden for Christians to drink from the same cup as Muslims, since Muslims in Pakistan consider Christians to be unclean. They then demanded that Bibi convert to Islam. But Bibi refused, even asking why it should be her and not them who should be converting to another religion.

This remark led to a heated discussion, of which Bibi was accused of blasphemy by making derogatory comments about Mohammed. Such accusations are most likely trumped-up charges, a common occurrence in Pakistan when Muslims have disputes with non-Muslims. Bibi was later attacked by a mob and later arrested and charged with blasphemy.

A year later, she was sentenced to death by hanging- in a trial that lasted only thirty minutes and with no cross-examination of any witnesses. The sentence resulted in celebration among the attendees.

In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld the lower court’s decision. But the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi of the charges due to discrepancies among the witnesses for the prosecution.

Bibi’s acquittal resulted in rioting throughout Pakistan. Muslims have called for her death, and are conducting searches of various homes in an attempt to find her. So far she has managed to stay ahead of them by moving from safe house to safe house.

Despite the acquittal, Bibi is unable to leave Pakistan due to the prosecution filing a petition against the Supreme Court’s decision, claiming that the ruling was “erroneous” and should be reversed.

Needless to say, Asia Bibi (and her family for that matter) are in grave danger as long as they as they remain in Pakistan. They could go to Britain, but British authorities rejected that idea for fear that Muslims might riot in Britain (note: they are already causing havoc there anyway, e.g. terrorist attacks, rapes), and possibly put its embassy and consulates in danger (hence a repeat of the American Embassy in Iran being stormed by Islamists in 1979).

Other countries (e.g. Australia, Italy) have apparently offered Bibi asylum. But as Hugh Fitzgerald of Frontpage Magazine pointed out, it would be best if she was offered asylum in America or the Vatican.

Whether or not Asia Bibi is given asylum and makes it out of Pakistan alive is yet to be seen.

So in the meantime, she will be living in fear for her life.

Pakistan acquits Christian woman facing death for blasphemy

Associated Press

URL of the original posting site:

ISLAMABAD (October 31, 2018)- Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday acquitted a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2010, a landmark ruling that sparked protests by hard-line Islamists and raised fears of violence.

Asia Bibi releasedChief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced the verdict to a packed courtroom and ordered Asia Bibi released. She has been held at an undisclosed location for security reasons and is expected to leave the country.

The charges against Bibi date back to a hot day in 2009 when she went to get water for her and her fellow farmworkers. Two Muslim women refused to drink from a container used by a Christian. A few days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

The mere rumor of blasphemy can ignite mob violence and lynchings in Pakistan, and combatting alleged blasphemy has become a central rallying cry for hard-line Islamists.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was shot and killed by one of his guards in 2011 for defending Bibi and criticizing the misuse of the blasphemy law. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, has been celebrated as a martyr by hard-liners since he was hanged for the killing, with millions visiting a shrine set up for him near Islamabad.

Ahead of the verdict, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a hard-line cleric who has brought tens of thousands of people into the streets for past rallies, called on his supporters to gather in all major cities to express their love for the prophet and to protest if Bibi is released. Authorities have stepped up security at churches around the country.

Shortly after the ruling, hundreds of Islamists blocked a key road linking the city of Rawalpindi with the capital, Islamabad. Islamists gathered in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, in the northwestern city of Peshawar and elsewhere. Police urged demonstrators to disperse peacefully.

In the eastern city of Multan, police arrested several demonstrators after clashes.

Paramilitary troops deployed in Islamabad to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court, where security for the judges was being beefed up.

Bibi’s family and her lawyer say she never insulted the prophet. In previous hearings her attorney, Saiful Malook, pointed to contradictions in testimony from witnesses. The two Muslim women who pressed charges against Bibi denied they quarreled with her, saying her outbursts against Islam were unprovoked.

Chaudhry Ghulam Mustafa, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, rejected the verdict, saying Bibi had confessed to making derogatory remarks against the prophet to seek pardon.

The three-judge panel upheld the blasphemy law itself, saying it was consistent with verses from Islam’s holy book, the Quran. But they said prosecutors had failed to prove that Bibi violated the law. In addition to citing the Quran, the judges also referenced Shakespeare’s King Lear, saying Bibi was “more sinned against than sinning.”

Critics of the blasphemy law have said it is used to settle personal scores or to attack minority communities. Bibi’s case was closely followed internationally amid concern for Pakistan’s religious minorities, who have frequently come under attack by extremists in recent years.

Bibi’s husband hailed Wednesday’s verdict.

“I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” said Ashiq Masih.

“My wife spent so many years in jail and we hope that we will soon be together in a peaceful place,” he said.

“We are so excited to finally see Asia get justice. It took nearly a decade, but finally justice has been done. Our prayers now are with Asia and her family as they are in extreme danger until they are safely out of Pakistan.

“We are also very concerned for the safety of Pakistan’s Christian community at large. Asia’s case remains highly sensitive and the ignition point for many acts of religious hatred. It is our hope that Pakistan’s security forces will be able to secure all Pakistani Christians, as extremists will likely seek revenge against their community.

“It is also [our] hope that this decision will lay a foundation for reforming Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and signal to both Pakistan and the world that justice will prevail over extremism, even when a religious minority is accused of blasphemy.”

William Stark, regional manager
International Christian Concern

“We welcome the decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court to overturn the conviction and death sentence of Asia Bibi. Ms. Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy based on comments she allegedly made related to her Christian faith while drinking water by a well. Blasphemy laws criminalize the exercise of fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

“Blasphemy laws directly violate international law. All people have the right to freely choose, and live out, their faith. We, therefore, urge all governments to uphold this right by ceasing enforcement and initiating repeal of their blasphemy laws.”

Kelsey Zorzi
Director of advocacy for global religious freedom
ADF International

















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