The announcement of Asia Bibi’s court verdict is set for 9:00am on October 31, 2018. The mother of five has been under threat of the death penalty for trumped up blasphemy charges longer than any other individual and if she is convicted would be the first person executed in Pakistan by the state for such charges.
The President of the European Parliament has warned Pakistan that it is making a ‘big mistake’ in its treatment of Asia Bibi, a mother-of-five facing execution for blasphemy.
President Antonio Tajani raised the case against Bibi during the plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, he said:
“I ask that she is guaranteed a fair trial and to stop this discrimination and religious prejudice…
“This is a big mistake, it is against human rights. We want to defend human rights everywhere. For this, we need to save Asia Bibi.”
Even though Pakistani PM Imran Khan, who defends the blasphemy laws, seems to have a solid understanding of the judicial unfairness of the case against Asia Bibi when he calls her “that poor woman”, according to The Express. He said:
“I know this law is an inconvenience for some people like that poor woman Asia Bibi. But it is a law that is complete and I support it.”
However, it remains to be seen if there is the will in the Pakistan to extend not only compassion, but justice to this woman who has suffered so long in anticipation of a exceedingly harsh judgement. Two politicians have given their lives in 2011 for speaking up for Asia Bibi: former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti were both assassinated.
There is grave concern that there will be violence following the verdict (click here) to read the public threats of Islamist leaders. To read more about the case and the initiative to pray (click here). Earlier this year Asia Bibi’s husband and daughter met with the Pope to raise their concerns (click here)
Wilson Chowdhry with Ashiq Masih and Eisham Masih at Chester Cathedral
Wilson Chowdhry said:
“It seems a huge understatement to call this abuse of not only her basic human rights, but of Pakistani law itself, ‘an inconvenience’, while extremist groups dominating social media become the de facto judges by threatening violence on Pakistan’s leaders and Chief Justices. It is a difficult situation for Pakistan’s leadership.
“Pakistani Christians continue to pray for peaceful co-existence between people of different faiths in their homeland and for the government to enact justice for all people.”
Wilson Chowdhry continued,
“Christians worldwide will be praying that justice is rendered tomorrow and that Asia is granted the opportunity to live her life in freedom with her family. Our hope rests in God and we are lifting up all the authorities in Pakistan to His mercy as they are set to make this historic decision. The eyes of the world are upon Pakistan, let them rise to the occasion.”
Joseph Nadeem, whose charity acts as guardian for the family is appealing for further legal assistance to ensure the safety of Asia and her family, and has summarized the events of Asia’s case, as follows:
Asia Bibi (48) (originally Asia Noreen) wife of Ashiq Masih is Catholic Christian by faith and a mother of five was a resident of Ittanwali village, Nankana Sahib, District Sheikhupura and now known as (District Nankana Sahib). She was a farm labourer and was falsely implicated in a blasphemy case and blamed for disrespecting the name of Prophet Mohammad.
The blasphemy allegations arose on June 14, 2009 after a conversation at berry’s garden (workplace) in between Asia Bibi and two of her co-farm Muslim women laborers over the drinking of water in the same glass that was only meant for use of Muslims but later the conversation turned into scuffle and afterwards she was accused of blasphemy.
On June 19, 2009 after five days of clash Asia Bibi was blamed for blasphemy and she was inhumanly beaten-up, degraded and humiliated by her native villagers and the Muslim residents of surrounding villages. Later, the police arrested victim Asia Bibi and a lodged blasphemy case FIR No. 326/09 offence under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against her and on the same evening she was sent to the District Jail Sheikhupura.
Later on November 08, 2010 Mr. Naveed Iqbal (Additional Sessions Judge, Nankana Sahib) convicted Asia Bibi for passing derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad and sentenced her to death by hanging and imposed a fine of three thousands Pak rupees 300,000/- (US$ 2860 approximately). During imprisonment victim Asia Bibi has suffered tremendously and in many ways threatened and tortured and still suffering through serious threats of life, ill-treated and tortured heartlessly by the fellow inmates and the jail authorities.
Recently after handing £3000 to Ashiq Masih during his tour of the UK we received a further donation for the family of Ashiq via a large charity who asked us to pay the funds directly to Saif Ul Malook the family’s solicitor. However after we spoke to Ashiq all parties agreed the fund should be sent to the family, The video begins in Urdu and English translation is provided at the end:
BPCA has been asked to help with raising £25,000 to aid in the security and evacuation of Asia Bibi and her family from Pakistan following the verdict. To donate to this appeal please (donate here) and mark your donation ASIA BIBI
Wilson Chowdhry and John Pontifex hand over flowers to Ashiq Masih and Eisham Masih at Westminster Cathedral Event in October.
The following court information was provided to The British Pakistani Christian Association by the Joseph Nadeem, who has been acting as the guardian of Asia Bibi’s family.