Asia Bibi comforts her children after the devastating court ruling.
A Christian woman in Pakistan has been sentenced to death by hanging after she was convicted of allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Asia was also fined £728 - the equivalent of two-and-a half years' salary for an unskilled worker. Asia, who is from Ittanwali in Punjab province, laboured in the fields for a Muslim landlord. She was arrested after a heated discussion about religion with her fellow farm workers. Hers was one of only three Christian families in the village.
Asia Bibi, who is 45 years of age and has five children, has denied blaspheming and informed investigators that she is being persecuted for her Christian faith in a country where followers of Christianity often face harassment and discrimination.
It is believed she will now put in a appeal against the sentence, which was handed down by a local court in Sheikhupura near Lahore.
Her husband, Mr Ashiq Masih, told the media he didn’t have the heart to inform two of the couple’s youngest children about the ruling and that they had asked him many times when they would be able to see their mother again.
In the court it was heard how Bibi had been employed as a farmhand in the countryside with other women that were all Muslims. After bringing them water, her colleagues refused to drink it while deeming it unclean as it was brought by a Christian – a claim that sparked a row.
It is also alleged that some of the women workers had been putting her under pressure to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. On June 19, 2009, the women pressed Asia about Islam. She responded by sharing with them about her faith in Christ. She spoke of how Jesus Christ had died on the cross for their sins and then asked them what Mohammed had done for them.
On hearing this response the Muslim women became very angry and began to beat her. Some men took Asia by force and locked her in a room. They used the PA system of a local mosque to broadcast plans to punish Asia by blackening her face and parading her through the village on a donkey.
Asia and her children were set upon by an angry mob later on, and then taken to a police station after some Christians informed the local Police and had her put into protective custody. Later that evening a Blasphemy Case was registered against her after pressure was placed on the Police by local Muslim Leaders.
This miscarriage of justice and violent social condition illustrates the severe and intense persecution that people of a minority faith experience in Pakistan. The British Pakistani Christan Association condemns the awful attack and the maladministration of Justice exhibited. We have formed a petition and intend to submit this to 10 Downing Street and the Pakistani Embassy on the 17th November 2010. Please sign the petition below and share this with other colleagues:
We ask all readers to pray for justice and succour for Asia Bibi and her family.