BY Ian Dunn | November 23 | comments icon 6 COMMENTS     print icon print

28-DAUGHTERS-OF-ASIA-BIBI

Pakistani woman spared blasphemy execution

[Editor's note: May 5 2011. This story was published in the SCO in November 2010 and is NOT recently published as Google News suggested this week.]

Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, has been freed. She was released today after receiving a pardon by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and has gone into hiding over fears for her safety.

The 45-year-old mother has been in prison since June 2009. She was found guilty of blasphemy despite there being no evidence that she committed the crime and her repeated denial of the charges laid against her.  Ms Bibi was sentenced to death on November 8 this year by judge Naveed Iqbal.

Ms Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad by Muslim field workers following a dispute over their different faiths. When she was asked to bring a cup of water to one of them, the women refused to drink from it, saying that it had been touched by a Christian and was therefore ‘unclean.’ Her conviction and sentence caused an international outcry and shone a spotlight on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Pope Benedict XVI joined world leaders in appealing for Ms Bibi’s release.

Nasir Saeed, a spokesman from CLAAS, which provides free legal assistance to Pakistani Christians, said his organisation were delighted by the news of her freedom.

“This is the only acceptable outcome to what has been a travesty of justice from the outset,” he said. “Asia Bibi should never have been charged with blasphemy, let alone found guilty and sentenced to death.  The ordeal faced by her and her family is unimaginable to most people outside of Pakistan who are largely unaware of the abuse and discrimination faced by the tiny Christian minority there.

“The blasphemy laws smack in the face of democracy and human rights and only reinforce the notion that Christians and other religious minorities in the country are somehow inferior and less human. We are relieved and overjoyed at Asia Bibi’s release but so long as the blasphemy laws remain in place there is no telling when another innocent Christian will face being executed because of something they said.”

Pic: Female relatives of Asia Bibi campaigning for her release with her photograph

Comments - 6 Responses

  1. Any faith that is embraced at gunpoint is no faith at all.
    No coercion should be applied on anybody to make him or her change his or her faith or faith-related statements. Similarly there should be no force applied on anyone to prevent one from moving from one faith to another.
    Only then can any religious denomination claim to be ‘bona fide’.
    This, of course, should not be taken as justification for insulting those who do not subscribe to one’s religious belief.

  2. Libby says:

    I cannot help but think Asia Bibi will be in as much, if not more, danger outside prison.

    God keep her and her family safe.

  3. Seth says:

    This is fantastic news – I hope and pray that some country or group will now put their money where their mouth was and help to get Asia OUT of Pakistan and somewhere that is safer.

  4. Elkaren says:

    It does now look to the world as if Pakistan has abandoned Islam for some other more savage and cruel religion which has forgotten about goodness and kindness and spirituality and seems obsessed with making the most vicious interpretations and forming a lynch mob on the strength of gossip and innuendo. This looks like a Nation where the Clerics and Judges have become entirely interested in their own self aggrandisement and are addicted to getting a high from power over the minds of others. They are using words that were meant for the time they were written only as a club to beat the people with and they bring Islam into shame. There can never be true belief where there is coercion.

  5. Christopher says:

    +JMJ+

    Your article is incorrect! Asia Bibi is still in Prison. Please update to show the truth.

    Thanks

    Christopher

  6. Liz Leydon says:

    The SCO article you refer to online at http://www.sconews.co.uk/news/4497/pakistani-woman-spared-blasphemy-execution/ was a correct report when it went was posted. As you can see at the top of the page, that was in November 23 2010. As with many news stories, much has changed since then. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s bid to pardon Ms Bibi in November 2010 was quashed and she is indeed back in prison. Thank you for your correspondence.

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