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Blasphemy Law Once Again ‘misused’ Against a Pakistan Christian woman
It follows on the heels of the case of Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, although this one is completely different

By Jawad Mazhar
02/23/20111 Pakistan (ANS)-Following on the heels of the shocking case of Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old Pakistani Christian woman and mother of five who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, and in whose defense Punjab Governor Salman Taseer lost his life, comes the strange case of another Christian woman who has been charged with blasphemy under the country’s law that has been condemned around the world.

The Christian woman — Agnes Bibi (alias Naggu Bibi) — who is in her forties, and is the spouse of Bashir Masih — has been accused of allegedly making blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad,

A resident of Street #2, Ibn-E-Maryam colony, Warispura, Faisalabad, Ms. Bibi was booked on Friday, February 18, 2011, at the Saddr Police Station under section 295-A of the controversial blasphemy law of the Pakistan Penal Code.

This was revealed to ANS by Father Aftab James Paul, priest of Sacred Heart Parish in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan and a man recognized for his interfaith diologue.

Talking about what he described as “this sad episode,” the priest said that Bibi had been involved in a “property dispute” with Aslam Masih Bhatti, son of Farid Masih Bhatti (a retired judicial magistrate), who was part of another Christian family in the same colony.

Khalid Gill, Chief Organizer in Punjab Province for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) also shed light on this case saying that Bibi had registered a case over a land dispute, but the local court decreed in favor of Aslam Masih Bhatti and because of this “she harbored a grudge against the family.”

Gill added that Naggu Bibi had strongly challenged the Christian family and had allegedly threatened them.

After this, according to the local Catholic clergyman, Ms. Bibi went to see a local Muslim cleric who took her to the Saddr Police Station on Wednesday, February 16, 2011, “where she gave a statement that Aslam Masih Bhatti has passed blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad” in what some believe was a “concocted story.”

Later, provincial legislator, Joel Amir Sahotra, as well as local Christian elders and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, who were joined by more than 300 Christian and Muslim people, negotiated over the matter and they decided that it was “clearly evident” that Ms. Bibi had produced a “trumped up story.”

So, on February 18, the Deputy Superintendent Police issued a directive to install a case against Ms. Bibi and, on the complaint of Muhammad Idrees, son of Muhammad (caste Gujjar), a resident of Chak (village) 225-RB, Nazir Colony, Faisalabad, a case was registered against her — First Information Report) # 136/11 — under section 295-A, alleging that she has passed blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad.

Both Father Aftab James Paul and Khalid Gill, while talking to ANS, said that, although steps taken by the Christian woman “were not appropriate,” they both disagreed with the controversial law.

They censured the law saying that if there would have been no such law she would not have been behind the bars. They appealed the government to allow the committee which was working over repeal of blasphemy laws to resume its work.

The Catholic priest, also quoted Advocate Chaudhary Anwer, counsel for the Christian woman, as saying that Ms. Bibi was “insane and therefore she must be granted amnesty.”