Aasia Bibi, Asia Bibi for blasphemy allegations - Pakistan News

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Several thousand protesters hit the streets of Pakistan calling for the Christian woman accused of insulting Islam be put to death. Asia Bibi would become the first person executed for blasphemy if her appeal fails.

The Pakistani city of Lahore was the center of Friday’s protests, which were organized by the anti-blasphemy party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). Demonstrations also took place in a number of other cities across the country, including Karachi and Rawalpindi.

The rallies came after Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the final appeal of Bibi, a Christian laborer accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed in 2009 by Muslim women she was working with in a field.

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According to Asia Bibi’s autobiography ‘Blasphemy: Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water’ the incident began when she went to retrieve a cup of water from a well during a hot day of fruit picking.

When a Muslim woman nearby saw her doing so she shouted, “Don’t drink that water, it’s haram (forbidden)!” She then turned to the other women in the field, telling them that Bibi had dirtied the water in the well by drinking from their cup.

“Now the water is unclear and we can’t drink it! Because of her!” the woman said. Several women called Bibi a “filthy Christian” and told her to convert to Islam.

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“I’m not going to convert. I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?” Bibi said.

At that point, one woman spat on her while another shoved her. Days later, she was accused of blasphemy.

READ MORE: Blasphemy: Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water By Asia Bibi

Friday’s protests came despite the court saying it had reached a judgment at a hearing on Monday, but that it would not be released immediately for “reasons to be recorded later.” It also said that it had ruled on a petition that would put Bibi on the no-fly list if released, but did not publish that judgment either.

Bibi’s case has prompted international calls for her release, with Pope Benedict XVI joining in the calls in 2010. Pope Francis met with Bibi’s daughter in 2015.

Although Pakistan’s law takes the accusation of blasphemy very seriously and people have been sentenced to death, no one has ever actually been executed.

READ MORE: Blasphemy: Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water By Asia Bibi

Pakistan’s new administration, led by the swashbuckling former cricketer Prime Minister Imran Khan, could also take a stance against the intimidation of Tehreek-e-Labbaik, whose leaders have demanded that Khan fulfill his promises to make Pakistan an “Islamic state” and that “Asia Bibi should be hanged keeping international pressure aside.” Khan could respond to this by noting that Pakistan is already an Islamic Republic and that, according to the Quran, Pakistan cannot execute an innocent woman for any crime.

Instead of snubbing the international community, one that Islamists see as impinging on Pakistan’s move toward a full theocracy, Khan could emphasize the need to embrace it and to work with it. In other words, Khan could choose to stand with the innocent woman instead of the rabid and bloodthirsty extremists.

Saving Bibi need not only be a Pakistani campaign. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, likely fearing violence by hardliners, has instructed Pakistani media to refrain from discussions of Bibi’s case until the verdict is issued. This places responsibility on international media and human rights groups to step up their efforts and fill the vacuum.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan would never admit to being permeable to international campaigns for a particular accused, but judges exist in the same larger political context as all the rest of us. A groundswell of international protest and attention, via media and social media, could drown out the venal voices of hardliners demanding death and replace them with activists insisting on life.

According to Amnesty International, though there was a 31% decrease in executions from the previous year, Pakistan still executed 60 people in 2017, while nearly 7,000 people languished on death row. When this inclination to execute is combined with the pressures of groups like Tehreek-e-Labbaik, and the fact that Bibi is a Christian woman in an increasingly misogynistic and xenophobic atmosphere, there seems almost no cause for hope.

– RT / CNN / Politicoscope

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