On Wednesday, Pope Francis met with the family of Christian blasphemy victim Asia Bibi. The Pope told Ashiq, Asia’s husband, that he was praying for Asia who remains on death row after being sentenced to death in 2010 of blasphemy. Blasphemy remains a sensitive topic in Pakistan where the mere rumor of blasphemy can be the catalyst for mob violence, especially in cases where religious minorities are accused. In many cases, blasphemy accusations are false but provide a convenient cover for individuals seeking to settle personal scores, eliminate rivals, or incite religious feelings.
4/17/2015 Pakistan (Pulse) – Pope Francis on Wednesday met the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi – a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan over blasphemy charges, the Vatican said.
“I pray for Asia, for you and for all Christians who are suffering,” Francis told Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih and their 15-year-old daughter, according to the Vatican Insider website.
Mother of five Bibi has been on death row since trouble broke out in 2009 with a group of women she was working with in a field.
They accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), a charge she denies. Soon afterwards, she was jailed and sentenced by a court to death by hanging.
Bibi’s death sentence was confirmed in October 2014 by the Lahore High Court.
Reports say an NGO helped Bibi’s husband and daughter to travel to Europe, seeking to rally support for their cause. They want European officials to take up the issue with Islamabad.
Last November, the EU parliament called on Pakistan to overhaul its blasphemy laws with a view to repealing them, saying they were being used to target Christians and other minorities.
Bibi is waiting for the final ruling of the Supreme Court.