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PAKISTAN: Testimony of Asia Bibi

PAKISTAN: Testimony of Asia Bibi

“I, Asia Bibi, daughter of Salamat Masih, believe in Jesus”. So begins a video testimony of the Pakistani woman who was formerly sentenced to death for blasphemy but now living in an undisclosed location in Canada.

Grateful for the opportunity to begin building a new life for her reunited family, Asia is calling out to the world to remember others still being imprisoned for their faith.

In the video, Asia, who remains a proud Pakistani, expresses remorse for having to leave her homeland and beloved elderly father. Even while in Canada, however, her life is still under threat by those seeking to punish her for alleged blasphemy.

The US State Department estimates that there are presently 77 others in prison under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. One such person is Zafar Bhatti, who has been trying to appeal a life sentence since his imprisonment in 2012. On 12 September, his hearing was delayed for the eighth time and rescheduled to take place on 10 October.

When Asia Bibi arrived in Canada in May 2019, she joined her daughters who had been granted temporary asylum.

As the long-suffering Christian mother looks toward the future, she intends to move to an undisclosed European nation. Once settled, she hopes to continue the healing process after all the damage caused by years of detainment in prison. To hear Asia’s testimony in her own words, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSK2_tS8mNg

Sources: The Telegraph, Church in Chains, Release International

  • Pray for ongoing healing to take place in the lives of Asia and her family members and for their continued protection.
  • Pray the Lord will lead them as they consider plans for the future.
  • Pray for Zafar and others who are presently in prison for their faith. Commit to the Lord, Zafar’s upcoming appeal.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

Pakistan: Asia Bibi Finally Free

Pakistan: Asia Bibi Finally Free

Asia Bibi is finally out of Pakistan. Officials have confirmed that Asia has been released. Her lawyer has told CNN she is now in Canada, where two of her daughters have already been granted asylum.

The Christian woman was acquitted of blasphemy by the Pakistan Supreme Court last year, but has not been free to leave the country. Instead, she has had to live in safe houses to escape extremists who continue to call for her to be killed.

Asia was originally charged with blasphemy after sharing a cup of water with Muslim farmworkers, who called her unclean because she was a Christian.

‘It’s a big day,’ Asia’s lawyer, Saif Ul Malook, told The Guardian. ‘Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family.’

 

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal Upheld

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal Upheld

Pakistan’s top court has rejected a challenge to the acquittal of a Christian woman on blasphemy charges. The Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence.

She was originally convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in a row with her neighbours and spent eight years on death row. She has always maintained her innocence in a case that has polarised Pakistan.

The Supreme Court’s quashing of her sentence last October led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws, while more liberal sections of society urged her release.

Hardliners had petitioned to overturn this ruling.

The three-judge panel of the country’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said the arguments of the lawyer acting on behalf of the petitioners did not satisfy the judges.

Bibi was held under house arrest at a secret place up until the hearing. Reports suggest she may be offered asylum in Canada.

There are 218 other Christians who currently face blasphemy charges.

Sources: BBC, CLAAS, Release International

  • Thank the Lord for this ruling, pray this may be the start of considerable change in assuring justice for minorities in Pakistan.
  • Ask the Lord to surround Asia with His continued protection as she starts a new life with her family.
  • Remember and intercede for those who currently face blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Asia Bibi Freed. Acquittal Upheld

Asia Bibi Freed. Acquittal Upheld

Voice of the Martyrs, along with our partner Release International welcomes the decision by Pakistan Supreme Court to uphold acquittal of Asia Bibi. Calls for Pakistan to protect Asia and Christian minority, review cases of 200 other Christians behind bars and repeal blasphemy laws.

‘We are delighted that the Supreme Court has stood firm over its principled and courageous decision to throw out the false blasphemy charges against Asia Bibi,’ says Release CEO Paul Robinson. ‘Anything else would have been giving in to extremism and handing Pakistan over to mob rule.’

The decision, which ends Asia’s 10-year ordeal, was made amid tight security. It means she is now free to leave the country and seek asylum. Two of her daughters are reportedly already in Canada.

‘Security’

Says Paul Robinson: ‘The government of Pakistan must now follow the lead of its Supreme Court and do the right thing. The government must:

  • guarantee Asia’s safety,
  • it must safeguard the Christian minority against mob reprisals by stepping up security against any suggestion of rioting and violence,
  • and it must urgently review the case against every other prisoner who has been accused and jailed for blasphemy.

200 others

‘Release partners in Pakistan say there are 218 other Christians who still face blasphemy charges – a disproportionate number of those accused. And when they are accused, individuals, families and entire communities face violence at the hands of vigilantes.’

The British Pakistani Christian Association believes nine out of ten Pakistanis still consider Asia Bibi to be a blasphemer, making her a target for assassination.

Adds Paul Robinson: ‘In the Asia Bibi case, the Supreme Court revealed what Release has been saying for years, that accusations of blasphemy can be malicious and built on lies, simply to settle scores. These blasphemy cases – and the blasphemy law itself – must now come under review.’

According to the BBC, since 1990 more than 70 people have been killed by lynch mobs after being accused of blasphemy. And Amnesty International describes a large increase in blasphemy cases since the 1980s: ‘According to [the National Commission for Justice and Peace] NCJP, a total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused under various provisions on offences related to religion since 1987.’ Since that figure was compiled Release partners put the number of Christians higher at 218.

Islamist influence

The influence of Islamist parties in Pakistan is growing.

Islamist parties are calling for a tightening of Sharia (Islamic law). At their most extreme, they are campaigning for a harder line against blasphemy. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), is calling for blasphemers to be put to death. During the elections the party’s slogan was ‘Death to blasphemers’.

After the initial Supreme Court decision, TLP supporters flooded streets in several cities calling for Asia Bibi to be hanged and the government to be overthrown. After a long, tense standoff, the ringleaders were arrested.

TLP banners have depicted ‘holy warriors’ who have murdered alleged blasphemers. These include Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer after he called for the repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws.

In March 2011, the only Christian member of the cabinet was shot dead for backing his call to change the blasphemy laws. Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti had earlier received death threats for speaking out. Even to want to discuss the blasphemy laws was, it seemed, an act of blasphemy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has since apparently nailed his colours to the mast over the blasphemy laws. He said, ‘We are standing with article 295c and will defend it.’ 295c is the blasphemy clause that mandates the death penalty for any ‘imputation, insinuation or innuendo’ against Islam’s prophet Mohammed.

 

 

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Living Like a Prisoner

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi Living Like a Prisoner

Three months after her acquittal of a blasphemy charge, Asia Bibi is still living like a prisoner, hiding from angry mobs in Pakistan who want her dead.

A friend of Bibi who wasn’t identified has stated that the Christian mother of five ─ who was on death row for eight years ─ is living in fear of being killed and is guarded by security forces who’ve barred her from even opening a window.

Bibi was accused by Muslim farm labourers of having insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammed, which is an offence punishable by death in Pakistan. She was convicted despite denying the charges, and in October the Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict. The mother has been living in hiding ever since, with Islamic mobs demanding she be put back on death row and executed for her alleged crime.

Her children have been taken to Canada for their safety, though Bibi herself remains in hiding, awaiting a foreign nation to offer her asylum and secure her safety. Bibi isn’t allowed to give interviews for her own protection and is with her husband, Ashiq Masih, who was shot and wounded by a protester demanding his wife’s death.

Bibi’s friend said that while her hiding place is comfortable, she still sees it as a jail, with her only hope being to be reunited with her family one day.

The mother is also receiving medication for various illnesses she suffered while in jail. “She is receiving medication for her heart, but she is still in pain,” the friend said.

While various western countries, including Canada, Italy, Australia, and others have been mentioned as possible destinations that could grant Bibi asylum, her fate remains uncertain.

Sources: Associated Press, The Christian Post

  • Ask the Lord to provide His protection, healing and provision to Asia and Ashiq and very soon, safe passage to a place where they can start a new life as a family.
  • Ask the Lord to continue to give them great patience and spiritual strength as they endure this difficult delay.
  • Pray this ongoing ordeal, will continue to highlight difficulties relating to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and encourage change.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

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