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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Asia Bibi - Pakistan's Rosa Parks!

"The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."

All over the world people have heard of Rosa Parks the indomitable woman who had the strength of conviction to sit in her bus seat in protest to the abject conditions for black people in America.  In those days black people were not allowed to seat in the first 4 rows or the back of public buses.  They were required to sit in the middle seating area and were often asked to give up their seats, if the seats for white people were not available. 

On one fateful day on the 1st of December 1955 in downtown Montgomery Rosa's defiance and subsequent imprisonment and torture, led to riots across America and a strengthening of the civil rights movement in the USA.   Parks was charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code, even though she technically had not taken up a white-only seat—she had been in a colored section.  Trumped up charges were commonplace against black victims of a biased and unfair legal system (sounds familiar....?).  In Rosa' America black people attained a low 7% literacy rate that echoes the existing literacy rate for Christians and other minorities in Pakistan.

Rosa detailed her motivation in her autobiography, My Story:

“ People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

On Sunday, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at black churches in the area, and a front-page article in The Montgomery Advertiser helped spread the word. At a church rally that night, those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis.

Rosa later recalled:
“I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became."

On November 13, 1956, the United States Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation on buses operating within the individual states, deeming it unconstitutional. The court order arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 20, 1956, and the bus boycott ended the next day.

On December the 4th 2010 much like the Montgomery Bus Boycott we are asking Pakistani Christians across the globe to join us in protest.  If we can all unite behind Asia Bibi an icon for our cause we could finally make the world recognise the mistreatment our people have suffered since the inception of Pakistan.  Rosa became a universal legend and her stance has been recognised by the  U.S. Congress who later called her "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".  Rosa was also awarded the 1979 Spingarn Medal  the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall.  

Learn more about Rosa here:

Asia Bibi's sacrifice is no different from Rosa's and time will tell if Pakistan will in future honour a woman who has undergone severe torture and persecution, for a crime of conscience that has ignited the civil rights movement in Pakistan.

Our Protest on the 4th December is being supported by the Following Pastors:
  • Canon Yacub Masih
  • Rev Asif Gill
  • Rev Samuel Noel
  • Rev Samuel Qasir
  • Please join the list....

Asia Bibi an unfortunate victim of the second class citizenship imposed on religious minorities in pakistan

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I thought you might be interested to know that the Church of scotland has written to the Pakistan High Commission on behalf of Asia Bibi. You can find the information here