Christians Called to Light a Candle for Asia Bibi on April 20
The Masihi Foundation proclaims April 20 a day of prayer and fasting for women in prison, and calls on Christians around the world to participate. Bishop Rufin Anthony: “We need a world without violence, a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity. Growing hatred is a serious problem and the government must take concrete steps. ”
By Jibran Khan
04/13/2011 Pakistan (AsiaNews) – The Masihi Foundation has proclaimed April 20 as a day dedicated to Asia Bibi. The slogan of the day is “love for Asia Bibi, a day of prayer and fasting for Asia Bibi.” The Pakistani Christian foundation asks that Christians worldwide light a candle Wednesday, April 20, 2011, and say special prayer for the Christian in prison, sentenced to death for blasphemy. The Catholic Diocese of Pakistan and have announced they will participate in the initiative. The Masihi Foundation announced that it has already received a confirmation from Italy that the Italian Church will participate. The bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Rufin Anthony said: “We will join the Foundation Masihi in lighting a candle for Asia Bibi during the Holy Week, and I ask all Christians to pray and fast for Asia Bibi, who even if she is ill prays and fasts. The Masihi Foundation supports and sustains the family of Asia Bibi and is involved in this case, we also pray for the Masihi Foundation. We are also concerned about the recent case of Arif Masih, for whom the foundation is working. This incident has spread fear among the Christians of Faisalabad. We need a world without violence, a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity. Growing hatred is a serious problem and the government must take concrete steps”.
One of the fears related to the case of Asia Bibi is that the woman could be killed in prison or once the Supreme Court has proceeded to consider her appeal. From 1986 to 2010 there were 43 cases of “extra-judicial” killings of people accused of blasphemy. 19 concerned Christians, 17 Muslims, two Hindus and 5 Ahmadis.
Meanwhile there is another case of a Christian family persecuted by threats and forced into hiding. It concerns Sidra George, a teacher in the district of Narowal. On April 11, Sidra argued with Sit Razia, another teacher, the wife of a Muslim cleric. Razia praised a young Muslim who days before had desecrated the Bible at the gate of the Catholic Church of St. Anthony to “avenge” the burning of the Koran by Pastor Terry Jones, and was arrested by the police.
Razia, having uttered threats against the Bible, seeing that Sidra George was in the room, began to say that Islam was the only complete religion and that Christians should become Muslims. And then asked if she condemned the burning of the Koran. Sidra said yes, but did not convince Razia who accused her of only paying lip service, to save herself. Finally she was threatened with terrible consequences, if she did not convert.
Sidra George told her husband about the incident. Shortly after they began to receive threats on the phone. They went to the police, and they knew that Syeda Razia wife of an influential religious, had spoken to other religious about the argument with Sidra. Soon after the couple, with their three children, left Narowal, and entered into hiding for security reasons. George Masih, husband of Sidra, said: “We get threats to convert, we turned off our phones and left. Life is becoming difficult for Christians in Pakistan. “