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Pakistan: Condemned for Blasphemy, Christian Woman Now in Isolation

ICC Note

Asia Bibi is now kept in isolation after Muslim radicals threaten to kill her.

01/27/2011 Pakistan (Spero Forum)-Asia Bibi, the Christian woman condemned to death accused of blasphemy and imprisoned in a Sheikhpura jail in Pakistan for over a year and a half has been moved into an isolation cell. This is according to her husband, Ashiq Masih, who has just visited her. After receiving multiple many threats, and given the danger that Asia may be killed at any moment, the prison authorities in agreement with the government have finally decided to elevate security levels for her protection.

Now Asia is being held in an isolation cell, with two guards in view, while two telecameras are trained on her 24 hours a day. The food given to her is also strictly controlled. To avoid the risk of poisoning, raw food is given to her and she is allowed to cook the food for herself.

Asia, said Ashiq, “is still sad and worried for her children. I told her to trust in God and that we are doing everything to secure her freedom. I have also told her that all Christians and people of good will in Pakistan will pray for her on the World Day of Peace on 30 January.”

According to the Masihi Foundation, that is providing assistance to Asia’a family, “she is enjoying greater protection, but she will only be safe when she can leave the Country.” The Foundation is trying to organise a family visit for Asia in jail but awaits the necessary authorisation. Nothing new, but it is possible that she will be transferred to another prison. Ashiq refers to today’s event for Asia Bibi in Italy, 26 January, as “a good sign and hope, especially for young people, who can learn the values of justice and tolerance.”

“Every activity of an international nature which signals the abuse of this law is welcome. Today the law is used in flagrant violation of human rights, to attack religious minorities but also many Muslim citizens. A forum of Pakistani organizations calls for its abolition, but the Pakistani Government, which is currently experiencing difficulties in its political and economic governance, submits to the influence and pressures by religious parties. So the situation is deadlocked,” said Hasan.

The Masihi Foundation, which is providing Asia Bibi’s legal defence, in appreciation of the Italian initiative declared “The world is out of control if a poor woman, a farmhand, is put to death over a simple discussion over a glass of water. What happened to Asia Bibi continues to happen to others: we must unite and fight against all forms of fanaticism and terrorism. Let us save those who are victims of the blasphemy law because of their faith. We urgently need to find ways and strategies to put pressure on the Pakistani Government, so that she may be freed and so that what has happened to Asia does not happen to other innocent people.”

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