LAHORE – A Pakistani Christian woman “Asia Bibi” who is facing execution for alleged blasphemy is in such a bad health condition that her supporters fear she won’t make it to her date with the executioner.
Mother of five, Asia Bibi was accused of insulting the Muslim faith in 2009 following an argument with fellow villagers who were angry that she had drunk from a communal well. She has always denied the charges, but was sentenced to death in 2010. She has been in custody ever since.
Now Bibi is suffering from numerous health problems, including intestinal bleeding and so weak that she could hardly walk.
According to Philip Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, “She is an exemplar of a gross miscarriage of injustice rooted in Pakistan’s extremely unfair blasphemy laws and of how this law can victimize someone who should not be inside the criminal justice system whatsoever.”
In recent years, Bibi’s case has received infrequent coverage due to several delays of court hearings.
Nazir Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress said, “Pakistani media do not often write about her case and are too afraid because they are under pressure from the government to stay silent.”
Those who have spoken up for Bibi from within Pakistan have done so at their own risk. Two, Salman Taseer the governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated after defending Bibi.
In November 2014, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called on Pakistani President to grant Asia Bibi a presidential pardon. “I asked him in my own name, and in the name of the city of Paris and all Parisians,” she wrote. “Paris, the capital of human rights, is prepared to welcome her and her family to stay here permanently if they so wish.”
Then Asia Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih has written an open letter pleading for the President of Pakistan to pardon Asia, so that she and her family can move to safety in France.
The British Pakistani Christian Association has issued an online petition calling for Bibi’s release.
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