BY Peter Diamond | October 12 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-ASIA-CHRISTIAN

Pray for my mother, pleads daughter of Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy

The family of a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan appealed for the prayers of Scottish Catholics this week.

The husband and daughter of Asia Bibi (right), who was sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy in the majority Muslim Pakistan, spoke of their plight at an event in St Joseph’s Church, Kilmarnock, organised by pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Scotland.

Asia has been on death row for almost a decade and is currently awaiting a Supreme Court appeal decision by judges to learn her fate.

On a hot day in June 2009 in Sheikhpura, Pakistan, Asia Bibi went to get water for her and her fellow farmworkers.

After she took a sip, some of the Muslim women became angry that a Christian had drunk from the same container.

They demanded she convert, and she refused. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was arrested and imprisoned.

In November 2010, a Sheikhpura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Asia Bibi would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.

 

Prayers needed

At St Joseph’s in Kilmarnock on Monday October 8, Asia’s husband and daughter, Ashiq Masha and Eisham Ashiq, revealed their story and asked Catholics in Scotland to pray for a positive outcome to the case.

The event helped portray the vital work of ACN in supporting persecuted Christians in Asia, particularly in Pakistan and Iraq.

Also giving moving testimonies at the event was the Iraqi Archbishop of Basra Habib Jajou and Sr Luma Khudher from the Nineveh Plains in Iraq.

Eisham, the daughter of Asia Bibi, was moved to tears when she told the Galloway Diocese church hall of the day, as a nine-year-old, that she witnessed her mother being accused of blasphemy in a dusty fruit field.

She explained how villagers abused her mother and demanded to know why she had drunk water from the same bucket because ‘you are Christian and your God is born without Father.’

When the crowd demanded Asia convert to Islam, Eisham recalled, she said, ‘No, I don’t want to convert to Islam. if you want to kill me you can kill me because I have a strong Faith and I would love to die a Christian.’

Eisham Shiq and her father Ashiq Masih also asked the Christians of Scotland to pray that Asia would be released from prison.

 

Persecution

Fr Emanuael Yousaf, director of the Justice and Peace Commission for the Bishops of Pakistan, said in Kilmarnock: “It’s very difficult to be a Christian in Pakistan as we are a persecuted Church. It’s not easy both for our people and also our young people who are going to school, colleges and universities. We boost their overall morals and especially their Faith.

“When Asia’s family visited her last week she admitted that ‘for Christ’s sake she is ready to die as she will always remain Faithful to Jesus, come what may.’

“I hope and pray that she will be released and then we will see what we can do and how we can continue to help and support them.

“We have come so far with the help of Jesus and he will continue to help us on our journey for the good of the family and Asia Bibi.”

Bishop William Nolan of Galloway Diocese, the president of Scotland’s Justice and Peace Commission, was present for the moving speeches of the family in Kilmarnock.

Bishop Nolan said: “The Christians here tonight are really quite amazing. I was so saddened to hear the story of persecution that for some of these people has been ongoing for years and years.

“On the other hand it was so encouraging and inspiring to hear the resilience of people who still cling onto their Christian Faith despite the difficulties and the persecution when it would be so much easier to capitulate.

“We really need to hear this tonight because we need to be inspired by them. We complain here in Scotland sometimes about our situation and our problems but it is nothing compared to the people in these countries who have had to flee their homes and leave everything—and then they come back to a burnt out shell of a home.

And they did that because of their Faith in Christ Jesus.”

Bishop Nolan also said that as Christians we should always love our neighbour.

“Our Catholic Faith teaches us to respect the dignity of every single human being and so it does inspire us to be compassionate towards others,” he said.

“Of course particularly with persecuted Christians we share such a common Faith and belief so we are one Christian family and when something happens to a family member we need to be there to reach out and support them.”

Neville Kyrke-Smith, director of Aid to the Church in Need, said the charity had helped Asia Bibi’s family to survive.

“We’ll see in the future what more help we have to give them. Typically in Pakistan we’re helping the Christian community there, which faces a lot of difficulties in a sense of oppression, in a sense of controls and censorship and the blasphemy laws that obviously have been highlighted this evening,” he said.

“We hope and pray that there will be a repeal of the blasphemy laws in due course but the Christian community can always be a building block. Supporting the presence of Christians [in Pakistan] is vital for the social fabric of society.”

 

 

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