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Pakistanis demand death for Asia Bibi, a Christian labourer accused of blasphemy

Friday 19 October 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/pakistanis-demand-death-asia-bibi-christian-labourer-accused-blasphemy

Pakistanis demand death for Asia Bibi, a Christian labourer accused of blasphemy

Written by Sabrang India

Published on: October 15, 2018

Asia Bibi has been on death row for 9 years and has been in solitary confinement ever since. Pope Benedict XVI had asked for Bibi to be pardoned in 2010 and Pope Francis had met her daughter in 2015.

Photo: Asia Bibi

Islamabad: Thousands of Pakistanis descended on the streets to demand death for Asia Bibi, a Christian labourer on death row for blasphemy. They brought out rallies in major cities of Pakistan on Friday after the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on Monday but didn’t release it for the public.

“The Pakistani city of Lahore was the center of Friday’s protests, which were organized by the anti-blasphemy party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). Demonstrations also took place in a number of other cities across the country, including Karachi and Rawalpindi,” reported RT.
Asia Bibi was accused of blasphemy in 2009 for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed. Cases of blasphemy immediately invite a death sentence in Pakistan and even though none of the people on the death row in Pakistan have been executed so far, Asia Bibi could become the first one pending SC order.

“According to Bibi’s autobiography ‘Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water’ the incident began when she went to retrieve a cup of water from a well during a hot day of fruit picking. When a Muslim woman nearby saw her doing so she shouted, “Don’t drink that water, it’s haram (forbidden)!” She then turned to the other women in the field, telling them that Bibi had dirtied the water in the well by drinking from their cup. “Now the water is unclear and we can’t drink it! Because of her!” the woman said. Several women called Bibi a “filthy Christian” and told her to convert to Islam. “I’m not going to convert. I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?” Bibi said,” the report said.

Soon after, she was arrested on blasphemy charges.

Upholding her conviction, the Lahore High Court in Oct 2014 confirmed her death sentence. Asia has been under continuous solitary confinement for 9 years now and awaits her final verdict.

In her defence, Lawyer, Saiful Mulook argued in Court against the discrepancies in the filing of the report. He questioned in Court why a June 14 incident was filed on June 19 by the prayer leader of Kantawala village who was not present at the time of the argument. He also stated the contradictory arguments by the two Muslim women. The Chief Justice also highlighted that the witnesses didn’t testify against Bibi using defamatory language but mostly narrated the incident on the field.

Pope Benedict XVI had asked for Bibi to be pardoned in 2010 and Pope Francis had met her daughter in 2015.

The family is currently in London according to an Oct 14 report in Dawn. “Bibi’s family are in London on a visit organised by Aid to the Church in Need, a charity. But her family said that if Bibi is released, it would be difficult to stay in her homeland. ‘Pakistan is ours: we were born there, raised there,” [her husband Ashiq] Masih said. The only tension we have is the blasphemy law. Aasia Bibi, after her release, can’t stay there in the presence of this law. Living in Pakistan for us is very difficult. We don’t go out of our home and if we go, we come out very carefully. Life in Pakistan for us is very difficult,’ he said in the report.