Petitioners believe the Christian mother of five who has been jailed in Multan for over seven years should be set free. During a meeting with the First Minister at the Pakistani High Commission in London, Chairman of the BPCA, Wilson Chowdhry was informed that a date for Asia Bibi's trial would be fixed by the end of March. Mr. Chowdhry said:
"Asia is near the end of her sanity she has suffered immense brutality for seven years simply for adhering to the Christian faith, in a nation where only Islam is acceptable.
"Life for Christians has reached a nadir in Pakistan, but most innocent Christians cannot speak up for themselves for fear of being targeted.
"This is why we are calling on Christians of all diversities and people of good conscience from all faiths to join us at the Pakistani Consulate on Saturday to call for justice for Asia."
The British Pakistani Christian Association is calling for people to sign its petition for Asia Bibi (click here). The petition has already attained 18,304 signatures and is the largest Pakistani Christian-led petition—which gives it the strongest mandate.
An Imam (Islamic religious leader) in Pakistan accused Asia Bibi of a blasphemy in 2009 for drinking water from a well that was exclusive for Muslims. He determined that her Christianity made her ritually impure therefore contaminating the water. He also accused her for blasphemy for saying "My Christ died for me; what did Muhammed do for you?" a response she uttered while being beaten and ridiculed for her faith after she had offered water from the well to Muslim co-workers.
Asia Bibi has been incarcerated in the most brutal conditions, living in isolation and forced to cook her food for fear of poisoning after several failed attempts. She sees the light of day once every three months for about an hour, and her sanity is reaching the breaking point. Some say only her devout faith has kept her sane so far.
After Asia's initial Supreme Court appeal was adjourned due to Judge Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman declaring a conflict of interest on the day of the hearing, faith in Pakistan's creaking legal system waned even more. The same judge retired from the legal profession within a month.
About 150 top Muslim clerics (muftis) from the radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek issued a statement which demanded that the government hang Asia Bibi and all other prisoners of blasphemy laws and demanded a speedy trial of all cases still pending. They also issued a verbal decree that all those who might rescue those accused of blasphemy or who assist in trying to rescue them should be killed.
At least 150 Christians, 564 Muslims, 459 Ahmadis and 21 Hindus have been jailed under blasphemy charges since 1986. The cumulative total of blasphemy cases therefore illustrates a huge disparity in the number of minorities prosecuted as they make up 5 percent of the total population but just over 50 percent of all blasphemy cases.
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