Christians Must Not Forget Jailed Pakistani Woman, Says Ministry
The head of Open Doors in the USA is asking Christians to keep praying for Asia Bibi as the Pakistani high court decides on a date for her appeals hearing
By Ethan Cole
12/08/2010 Pakistan (Christian Today)-Christians should not forget about Asia Bibi – the first woman to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in Pakistan – as the country’s high court decides on a date for her appeals hearing, said a ministry that advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians.
Bibi’s case should not be swept under the rug and forgotten but Christians “must pray and advocate” on behalf of the innocent woman, said Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, in a statement Monday.
“We continue to stand with Christians in Pakistan. We continue to help them face the incredible pressure – the almost unimaginable pressure – they are under every day, by spiritual means, by encouragement and through advocacy, speaking out on their behalf,” said Moeller.
As of Tuesday, the Lahore High Court still had not set a date for her appeals case. There was hope that President Asif Ali Zadari could pardon her before the hearing, but last week the court barred him from doing so. It ruled that it was illegal for the government to pardon her while the case was pending.
Bibi, a mother of five, has been in prison for one-and-a-half years. Last month, she was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. She was accused of blasphemy by fellow field workers but she denies the charges.
She said the false accusation stems from a petty argument she had with her Muslim co-workers after they refused to drink water that she fetched for them. They complained that the water container was touched by a Christian. Upset by their comments, Bibi argued with them but afterwards thought nothing of the incident. However, a few days later dozens of Muslims dragged her away. She was accused of blasphemy and has since been imprisoned and sentenced to death.
Moeller stressed that the Pakistani government must repeal the blasphemy law to prevent similar cases that oppress Christians and other religious minorities in the country.
Hardline Muslims have held protests in Pakistan warning the government against changing the blasphemy law or else face protests nationwide.
No one sentenced to death because of blasphemy has actually been executed in Pakistan. The cases have all been overturned upon appeal. But 46 people were killed extra-judicially in Pakistan between 1990 and 2010 following charges of blasphemy, according to AsiaNews.
The 46 people, including 28 Christians, were killed extra judicially or found dead in prison under suspicious circumstances. As a result, there is growing concerns over the safety of Bibi as she awaits her trial.