World

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy

By: Brian Hutt
Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 17:36 (IST)
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A mother of two has become the first Christian woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, a field labourer in her thirties, was handed the sentence by a court of sessions in Punjab province on Sunday evening.

She was found guilty of committing blasphemy against her fellow farm workers in the village of Ittanwali during a heated discussion about religion in June last year.

Some of the women workers had reportedly been pressuring Bibi to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. During the discussion, Bibi responded by speaking of how Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of mankind and asking the Muslim women what Muhammad had done for them.

The Muslim women took offence and began to beat Bibi and she was locked in a room by some men. According to partners of Release International, a mob reportedly formed and “violently abused” her and her children.

The charity, which supports persecuted Christians, said that blasphemy charges had been brought against Bibi because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Release International’s chief executive, Andy Dipper, expressed his shock at Sunday’s ruling.

“Pakistan has crossed a line in passing the death sentence on a woman for blasphemy,” he said.

In addition to the death sentence, Bibi has also been fined more than £700 – equivalent to two and a half years’ wages for an unskilled worker.

Release’s partners in Pakistan say the sentence is a crushing blow for Bibi, who had been hoping to be acquitted and return to her husband and children.

“Although Asia has great courage, her dreams of release have vanished now. Please pray for her encouragement, strength and protection.”

They are planning to visit Bibi in prison as soon as possible.

Release has launched a petition against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. It fears that the passing of the death sentence against Bibi could set a harmful precedent in other blasphemy cases.

Another Christian woman, Martha Bibi – no relation to Asia Bibi – is on trial in Lahore for blasphemy. She was accused of committing blasphemy after a dispute with builders in Kasur who reportedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

Mr Dipper said Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were “wide open to abuse” and that Christians and other minorities were often accused of committing blasphemy by Muslims as a “vengeful way of settling scores”.

He warned: “In effect Asia has been sentenced to death for sharing her Christian faith. In previous cases, the death sentence has not been carried out. But this could well mean a life sentence for Asia in appalling conditions on death row.”

Release’s online petition can be found at: www.releaseinternational.org/current



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Have your say on this article

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 18:50 (IST)

every thing is possible in Pakistan to terrify women .Acid attack to brutally beating to charge blasphemy is also one more step to crush women .

Shakun Trivedi, kolkata

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 18:52 (IST)

Our President is over there right now why can't he insist on her release and bring her and her children back here???? Or does he agree with her punishmnent? His stand on Christianity is wishy washy as it is.

Dawn Custer, Detroit Michigan

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 18:54 (IST)

Unacceptable.

ashley, virginia, united states

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 20:00 (IST)

Every citizen of this great country, USA, should be thanking GOD for allowing the privelege we have of freedom to express our religious beliefs without this kind of treatment befalling us.AMEN.Halleluah!

sharon, charleston, WV,,USA

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 22:09 (IST)

Sad to say our president won't take a stand for a Christian women.. He is no more a Christian than I am a man.. He is too busy living on golf outings & vacations on our tax dollars.. We really need to Pray for Christians around the world as too many of us have become complacent & self absorbed. God Bless the Missionaries that are willing to step out in this dangerous world!!

Felicia, Pa. U.S.A.

Added: Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 23:55 (IST)

These two women have more faith and courage than the leader of our country. God is with them. I as a Christian am horrified by this. In the USA we can be God's deciples,with out fear of death. Do we do it? NO! Let us as Chritians tell about God and the things he has done for us. Pray for strength for these two beautful women. We Love you both.GOD BE WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY'S.

kathy, clinton, nc usa

Added: Thursday, 11 November 2010, 0:28 (IST)

Please pray for Bibi. Pray for Christians in countries that don't like Christ. This is the time to pray, gather your family together and pray for Bibi and other Christian women on death roll in Pakistan. Father please keep Bibi and her family in Jesus Name.

emma ilori, kent, UK

Added: Thursday, 11 November 2010, 0:53 (IST)

It is so hard to believe that these things are taking place at this time in history... that men have not gotten past this type of behavior. Women have no rights and children are not any better off. Why are they allowed to continue like this? Hitler was stopped; why not this? I grieve for them... The Bible speaks of martyrs in Revelation... perhaps Jesus will truly come soon.

carole douglas, montclair, u.s.a.

Added: Thursday, 11 November 2010, 20:25 (IST)

How horrible this is. Our Father in Heaven is of love, compassion, peace, forgiveness and Bibi is sharing of love, God will protect her and keep her. It breaks my heart that anybody is persecuted for loving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. I am praying right now for God's intervention. He can and He will, in Jesus name, Amen

Denise, Ft.Worth, USA

Added: Saturday, 20 November 2010, 1:24 (IST)

This is Disgusting!!! Where is the Chief Justice??Where are the lawyers and the judiciary??What happened to "Sab se Pehle Pakistan" slogan.. I know Muslims very well..My parents,releatives and teachers all are muslims..Even i am/was a Muslim until this year.. I know how terrified that women would have felt..Because women are always degrated in this country. I also want to become a Christian,but i can't because i am only 15 and my Parents will TEAR ME TO PIECES if i tell them that... And guess what, OBAMA is wrong about so-called MODERATE muslims. I know that extremism is spreading like bushfire in this country.. Some guy just told me yesterday that my NAME was HARAM9not allowed/a sin) in islam.Because it is not arabic like Abdullah,Hamza e.t.c. Rather it is persian. May God Bless his Children..Amen

Shahrukh Ahmed, Karachi,Pakistan

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