When news of Asia Bibi's plight spread throughout the international media, it brought almost universal condemnation. Sadly, it did not last. Her courage and suffering for the cause of Christ was soon forgotten
LAHORE, Pakistan (Catholic Online) - Zenit news Agency in a story entitled "Pakistani Christian Condemned for Blasphemy Tells Her Story" reports that Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman wrongfully sentenced to death for an alleged blasphemy, has collaborated with French journalist Anne Isabelle Tollet, Bibi to write a book entitled "Blasphčme" (Blasphemy). It was released on Sept. 7, 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal:
"The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which collaborated in the publication, described the book as "an impressive account of this Pakistani who for two years has awaited the order to be hanged, simply for having dared to share a glass of water with other women."
Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death by hanging simply because she is a Christian. Her lawyer filed an appeal of her unjust sentence and requested a pardon from the Office of the President. President Asif Ali Zardari had asked for a review of the facts of the case.It was widely reported that she would receive a presidential pardon or commutation of her sentence.
However, on Monday, November 29, 2010 Khawaja Sharif, the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, issued an interim order ruling that while the matter is pending before it the President of the Nation may not issue a pardon for Asia Bibi.
Pope Benedict XVI and leaders from around the world have urged that this devout Christian wife and mother be freed. On November 17, 2010, at his general audience in St. Peters square, the Holy Father called the world's attention to the plight of this contemporary Christian disciple with these words:
"Over these days the international community is, with great concern, following the situation of Christians in Pakistan, who are often victims of violence or discrimination. In particular, I today express my spiritual closeness to Ms Asia Bibi and her family while asking that, as soon as possible, she may be restored to complete freedom. I also pray for people who find themselves in similar situations, that their human dignity and fundamental rights may be fully respected. "
As the initial news of Asia Bibi's plight spread throughout the international media, it brought almost universal condemnation. Sadly, it did not last and her plight and her heroic suffering for the cause of Christ was soon forgotten. This 45 year old wife and mother was sentenced to hanging by the neck until dead on November 8, 2010 for what amounts to simply being a Christian. The unjust sentence was rendered under Pakistan's horrendous "Blasphemy Law".
One portion of the Penal Code under which she was sentenced reads as follows: "Use of derogatory remarks, etc; in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."
NBC news reported in 2010 that Asia Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, along with the couple's children,went into hiding in an undisclosed Christian enclave. He is convinced that the whole family has been targeted for death at the hands of radical Islamic groups. Asked about the events which gave rise to his wife's death sentence he told NBC news, "She was picking berries with other women, when she was sent to get water. One of the women refused to drink the water after my wife dipped her cup into the bucket. This woman said it was contaminated because it was touched by a Christian."
According to Masih, all the women then started taunting his wife, and shouting insults against her mother and their children. Bibi just repeated the same insults back at them. "The name of the holy prophet never came up.Five days later, the local cleric came to our house, followed by an angry mob, and dragged my wife away," he said, recalling the incident that took place in June 2009. They beat her, ripped off her clothes and accused her of insulting the prophet. Then they locked her up in a house until the police came to take her away."
Catholic Online has covered the story from the beginning. The "Blasphemy Law" is an instrument of oppression with which Christians and other religious believers are persecuted by Islamic supremacists. The use of such "Blasphemy" or "Religious Defamation" laws to persecute is not confined to Pakistan. It is an affront to the fundamental human rights recognized by freedom loving people around the world and revealed in the Natural Law.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it clearly, "Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order." (CCC #1738)
Asia Bibi must be freed and the so called "Blasphemy Laws" used to suppress the free expression of religious faith in Muslim Nations must be rejected. In the face of such an obvious attack on a Christian, all those who bear the name must speak out! We joined with Pope Benedict XVI and people of good will throughout the world and call for complete freedom for Asia Bibi. We will obtain a copy of the book and report on it as soon as we do. Hopefully it will rekindle a public, international outcry, to free Asia Bibi.
All reliable reports indicate that she is still in prison. A recent update on "Christians in Pakistan" reported that "A local Muslim leader has offered a $6,000 reward to anyone who murders Asia Bibi. The family of Asia Bibi is also getting death threats. Due to these threats Asia remains in her prison cell for 24 hours a day and she neither meet(s) anyone nor eat(s) food from the prison. She only eats the food which she made herself from the groceries provided by her husband."
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