Asia Bibi, the the Pakistani Christian woman accused of blasphemy against Islam, is said to be extremely sick. She is suffering from internal bleeding and requires urgent medical attention.
Asia was very ill in June 2015 but recovered a little before her death sentence was suspended in July 2015 (see below). The recent decision to suspend her death sentence and reopen her case in Pakistan’s Supreme Court means that, until the Supreme Court reaches its final decision, Asia cannot be executed.
However, her health condition is deteriorating. And sources who cannot be named for security reasons, say that she is so weak that she can’t even walk properly.
Original story: 28.07.2015
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, is now taking her case to the Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court make their decision Asia cannot be executed.
Commentators today have praised the Supreme Court for its courage to hear the appeal in the face of strong public sentiment against anyone seen to denigrate Islam, with some calling it a ‘historic day for Pakistan’.
Obviously this is good news. In a statement, the Chairman of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Rt Rev Bishop Azad Marshall and Secretary General Mr Victor Azariah have said: “This order of the Supreme Court has paved the way for her possible complete acquittal. Now she could be released on bail, but due to the sensitivity of the issue it was advised that she should remain in jail for security reasons and wait for the final judgment of the Supreme Court.”
However, a lawyer who did not wish to be named told an Open Doors contact: “I think Asia is more at risk that ever. This has paved the way equally to rile up the extremists and create an urgency to destroy her and raise the profile of their cause: the removal of minorities from Pakistan and Afghaistan. This is just a stay. Don’t get to excited. Aasiya is not free till she is free. This can drag on another 20 years.”
Another Christian woman responded: “Our God is bigger than any of these fears. In Jesus name we will see victory for the Church and the enemy’s plan will be thwarted.”
Asia, 50, was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws when she received the death penalty on 7 November 2010, after allegedly making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.
The Muslim woman had refused water from Asia, a colleague, on the grounds that it was ‘unclean’ because it had been handled by a Christian. The Muslim woman and her sister were the only two witnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince judges that their evidence lacked credibility.
Asia was first arrested in the summer of 2009 and has since been confined to prison, mostly in the high-security District Jail Sheikhupura, 22 miles north-west of Lahore, and now in the women’s jail in Multan.
Two other witnesses, a local Muslim cleric and the owner of the field where Asia worked have accused her of blasphemy in various court cases, but neither were present during the initial quarrel.
In 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, national minorities’ minister, were shot dead because of their support for Asia and criticism of what Clarke calls ‘Pakistan’s barbaric blasphemy laws’.
The crime of blasphemy was enshrined into Pakistani law under British rule, but strengthened during the years of military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
However, in recent years Pakistan, which is 96 per cent Muslim, has seen a surge in accusations of insulting Islam, says Islamabad-based think-tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies.
Analysts say that accusations are frequently used to settle scores, or as a front for property grabs.
Charges are hard to fight because the law does not define blasphemy, so presenting the evidence can itself sometimes be considered a fresh infringement.
If found guilty, defendants can expect the death penalty, but those accused are often lynched or languish for years in jail without trial because lawyers are too afraid to defend them.
Fifteen Pakistani Christians are currently believed to be facing the death penalty for blasphemy, including Sawan Masih, whose alleged blasphemy during a conversation with a Muslim friend in March 2013 resulted in the looting and torching of hundreds of homes within the predominantly Christian Joseph Colony in which he lived.
Source: World Watch Monitor
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