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Asia Bibi remains in prison, reluctant officials hide behind bureaucracy

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/15/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Judges feel threatened by 'peaceful' followers of Islam.

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan still sits in a women's prison her case held up by deliberate delays and a reluctance of judges and others to hear her case. Officials are afraid that they will become targets of Islamic fundamentalists if they appear lenient towards her.

Asia Bibi remains in prison, judges unwilling to take up her case for fear of violence.

Asia Bibi remains in prison, judges unwilling to take up her case for fear of violence.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/15/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Asia Bibi, Pakistan, blasphemy, law, threat, judges, case


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Asia Bibi remains in Pakistan's Multan prison, still without knowing if she will be reunited with her husband, spend her life behind bars, or be put to death for allegedly denying the existence of Allah.

According to accusers, Bibi committed blasphemy, an offense punishable by death in Pakistan. Despite the accusation, Bibi denies it. Bibi says she was targeted because she is a Christian.

Pray for Asia Bibi and all those who face martyrdom.

Bibi and her family had hoped her case would be heard and she could be released before Easter. However, despite intense international pressure, her case has been plagued with a series of setbacks, most apparently manufactured because judicial officials are extremely reluctant to take up her case.

The sense is that Bibi has been falsely convicted and that the law, which was adopted in 1986 is widely condemned and regarded as barbaric. However, Pakistan has large Islamic fundamentalist population. The country has been accused of being a haven for Al Qaeda and other terrorists, and indeed Osama bin Laden himself resided there quietly for several years before he was finally dispatched by a U.S. Navy Seal team.

The legal system remains just as backwards as the law itself. Judges and lawyers both have expressed reluctance to take up the case for fear of being branded an "accomplice to blasphemy" which can result in assassination.

The problem is that Pakistan isn't ruled by civil law, buy by conservative Islamic interpretation of the law which can very from place to place. Nobody in the government, nor the judicial system has the guts to do what's right, and instead they are willing to take the coward's path and condemn a Christian woman to martyrdom in an effort to save their own craven skin from extremists.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has a long tradition of violence usurping the rule of law. In 1996, a judge who acquitted a man of blasphemy was subsequently assassinated. The political process in Pakistan is also rife with assassination.

In Asia Bibi's case, attorneys have laid off on scheduled hearings, as have judges. The case has been moved from court to court and various administrative delays have occurred. It's all reluctance to complete the job, and a result of a judiciary that is terrorized by its own citizenry.

The international community is Asia Bibi's only hope. Without international scrutiny and intervention from people such as Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, the judges in Pakistan would likely leave Bibi to face a hangman on a quiet dawn inside a prison courtyard or execution chamber. Fortunately, the world has provided enough backbone to stay the execution. The government of Pakistan does not want to offend its Christian allies, in particular the United States.

If Bibi is acquitted, those involved in her case will probably have to hide or relocate someplace far from home. Bibi herself will quite possible have to leave the country. Until the rule of law trumps the rule of extremism, the country will never know peace.

Perhaps this is what can be expected from the "religion of peace."

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