Long time readers of this blog will recognize the name Asia Bibi, a Christian women imprisoned in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy against Muhammed. She was on death row for eights years and had one last appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court. This morning, it is being reported widely that she was acquitted.
This is of course tremendous news for her and her family. Her cause has been a focus of many groups, religious and non-religious, since her wrongful conviction eight years ago. Many in Pakistan wanted her to be executed for blasphemy. Pakistan’s high court did not find the evidence compelling and acquitted her. There isn’t any news at this point about when she will be release or where she will go. She certainly won’t be safe in Pakistan. She has been offered asylum in France among other places in the world.
Pakistani journalists are tweeting that Asia Bibi’s execution has been stayed. See below:
Ajmal Jami is a correspondent for Dunyan News.
I will add details and additional confirmation as it becomes available. Here is another news report about the stay of execution. And this from Dawn News also confirms the news. It doesn’t appear that Bibi is completely out of the woods but she has a stay on her sentence as of now.
For background, see this link
According to this Christian Today report, Christian housewife and mother Asia Bibi has one more chance for freedom. See also this report from the British-Pakistani Christian Association which provided the basis for the CT report.
Even if she is released, there are reports of a $5000 bounty for her life.
I recall many efforts to secure her freedom, from a British legislator to the mayor of Paris to the Pope.
Islamabad, Pakistan is nine hours ahead of us so it will be Wednesday very soon. Join me in praying for Bibi’s release and safety.
I have written about Asia Bibi on several occasions. Bibi is a Pakistani Christian mother of five who was convicted of blasphemy against Mohammad and sentenced to death. She has been dying a slow death in a Pakistani prison while Pakistan’s government has turned a deaf ear to many calls for her release.
News reports suggest she is very ill and will die if she does not receive medical care.
There have been multiple petition drives (I count eight on Change.org) and calls from political (e.g., mayor of Paris) and religious leaders (e.g., the Pope) to free Bibi.
It is galling to know that the U.S. gives billions of tax payer dollars to Pakistan while that nation regularly violates human rights.
If ever the State Department was ever going to make an another effort to pressure Pakistan, now would be the time.
Today in Pakistan, an appeal was filed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court on behalf of Asia Bibi.
The Christian mother of five is hoping to be cleared of blasphemy charges via this appeal and/or to receive a pardon and perhaps find refuge in France.
A Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy filed an appeal in the country’s top court Monday, her final legal recourse after being found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammed four years ago.
A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi last month, dashing hopes the conviction might be overturned or commuted to a jail term.
She has been on death row since November 2010 after being convicted of insulting the prophet of Islam during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
“On behalf of Asia Bibi I have today filed an appeal in the Supreme Court,” defence attorney Saiful Malook told AFP.
Please click this link to sign a petition to the President of Pakistan asking for a pardon for Asia Bibi.
Asif Aqeel, writing for World Watch Monitor, explains some of the recent legal maneuvers in the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been charged with blasphemy. She was sentenced to death and has one more appeal to the Pakistani Supreme Court.
There is a very helpful history of the case and a summary of the efforts of the courts to make it harder to achieve blasphemy convictions. Her hopes appear to be a change in evidence requirements or a pardon from the President.
The appeals judges now explain they had no choice, given the way Pakistan’s laws are written, and have turned to lawmakers to craft legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve. That test was not in place when Noreen, popularly known as Asia Bibi, was tried.
Bibi has been offered refuge in Paris, France.
Please sign and spread the word about the petition directly to the President of Pakistan to free Asia Noreen Bibi.
In some really important news…
Asia Bibi is a Christian mother who has been held in prison in Pakistan since 2010 on charges of blasphemy. On Tuesday, Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times gave his column to Asia Bibi’s husband to plead her case. Her best hope appears to be an international appeal to the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain for a pardon.
I blogged about her case in 2010 and started a petition at Change.org which I have reactivated. I hope you will sign it; it isn’t much but we can raise our voice.
Sign the petition (click the link).
Pakistani continues to fall closer to anarchy it seems as now extremists have killed another moderate leader.
Gunmen killed Pakistan’s minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, Wednesday, in the second attack this year on a high-profile figure who has opposed the country’s blasphemy law.
Witnesses say the attackers fled the scene in their car without hurting Bhatti’s driver, who then rushed him to the nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. City Police Chief Wajid Durrani spoke to reporters outside the hospital.
The police officer said the attackers intercepted Bhatti’s official car shortly after he left his residence for work and shot him several times at close range.
The slain minister belonged to the ruling party of President Asif Ali Zardari and was the only Christian member of the federal cabinet.
Bhatti had been threatened by Muslim extremists for speaking out against Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.
Police are reported to have seized Taliban-linked leaflets from the scene of the attack warning opponents of the Islamic law of blasphemy will meet Bhatti’s fate. In a VOA interview last month, the Pakistani minister had spoken about threats to his life, but vowed not to bow down before the extremist forces.
“This extremism is dangerous for the stability of the country,” Bhatti said. “It is the time that the people of different faiths and the Pakistani nation stand united against the forces of intolerance, against the forces of violence. The blasphemy law is being misused to victimize the innocent people of Pakistan.”
Read the rest of the story at the link above.
Today (Sunday, 1/30) has been set aside in Pakistan by Christians as a day of fasting and prayer for peace. More from this CP report:
The event is a response to plans by Islamic fundamentalists to campaign against any amendment to the Muslim nation’s controversial blasphemy laws, and for the death of convicted Christian mother of five Asia Bibi.
However, the Day of Prayer is intended to serve as a peaceful response to the intensifying, and often violent rallies led by radical Islamic groups in defense of the laws.
“We Christians do not wish to react nor respond to the provocations, instead to pray and fast, placing the difficulties that the country is experiencing in God’s hands,” Father John Shakir Nadeem, secretary for social communications for the Episcopal Conference, told Fides News Agency.
All churches in Pakistan will join in prayer for the nation to find “peace and harmony” and for Bibi’s freedom.
As you think about it today, please let’s join them.
SperoNews is reporting this possibility:
Lahore – Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, may be moved to Multan Prison, an all-women facility, due to security concerns. The Christian community expressed their concern to the authorities that the 45-year-old mother of five may not be safe in Sheikhupura Prison (Punjab) because of constant death threats from extremists around the country.