(Voice of the Persecuted) After one of the judges refused to take part and stepped down from the hearing of Asia Bibi’s final appeal on Thursday, it’s been postponed for an indefinite period. A letter has been written to the Chief Justice of Pakistan asking him to immediately appoint another judge to hear this case.
Bibi has been detained since 2009 when she was accused of uttering derogatory remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. According to her husband after “drinking a glass of water from our village well”. Her Muslim co-workers believed she had defiled the well simply because she is a Christian. In Pakistan, Christians are often thought of as ‘unclean’ because of their faith. See Voice of the Persecuted’s interview with a persecuted Pakistani Christian describing the harsh discrimination they face.
Asia was sentenced to death in 2010 by the lower court, a decision which was upheld by the Lahore Court and then challenged in the Supreme Court.
Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan.
On the day of the hearing, the courtroom was overcrowded. For security reasons, Asia was kept from attending the hearing. Asia’s husband, Ashiq Maish was present in court along with some Christians to support him. Also present was Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS-PK (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement) who had been following the case. According to Francis, security was very heavy and thousands of security troops had been deployed in Islamabad. Hundreds were deployed outside the court as several Islamic groups demanded Asia’s execution. They argued that a person charged with blasphemy deserves death and nothing less.
Bibi’s attorney, Saiful Malluck who is also a Muslim, has claimed he’s received death threats on several occasions. He also heard reports that the exetremists Muslims of Laal Masjid (Red Mosque, Islamabad) announced ‘whoever supported Asia Bibi, will also be considered blasphemous‘. Malluck requested the government of Pakistan to take notice of the threat and provide him protection.
Last year, Malluck claimed the Pakistani government was solely responsible for situation. He said,
“Many legal requirements have been ignored in the case of Asia Bibi, the only woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The authorities must put aside religious sentiments and verify the facts, first. However, they are subject to the influence of religious fundamentalists and do not stop the militants from attacking those accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, or setting fire to their homes.”
Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, the attorney for the complainant against Bibi, was also present in court with dozens of clerics and Muslim supporters, opponents of her release.
Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, told Voice of the Persecuted, “Although the hearing has been adjourned I’m still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against Asia will be dropped and she will be freed by the Supreme Court.”
He added, “But I am also scared that there can be tremendous repercussions for the Christians whether her conviction is overturned or upheld. If her conviction is upheld, then she can appeal to the president of Pakistan. “Undoubtedly pressure will be further built by Islamists groups and if, God forbid, her appeal is rejected by the president of Pakistan then she will become the first person to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. Also if charges are dropped and she is freed, there will be huge protests in Pakistan by the Islamists and Christians’ properties and lives will be at risk.”
He concluded, “It is very important that the government takes this matter seriously and takes security measures before the appeal hearing, not just in Islamabad but throughout the country and particularly in Punjab.”
As well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.
ACLJ shared that international pressure is clearly working. That it’s time to keep increasing the pressure. No one should be put to death for their faith and this vile violation of human rights must be stopped. Join with the 526,299 others supporting our sister by signing the urgent petition for Asia’s release here.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
DON’T BE SILENT! Your voice, our voices collectively, CAN make a difference by calling out for the freedom and release of our sister, Asia Bibi. Take action now by signing the petition, help by informing everyone about Asia’s case using your VOICE through conversations, at church, email and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Contact your elected officials to pressure the Pakistani government to quickly hear her case, acquit, release and safely transfer her and the family to France where she has been given honorary citizenship. Do all these things, but most importantly PRAY and encourage others to pray with you, for Asia and for Pakistan.
Note from Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Director, Blaine Scogin:
My Brothers and Sisters, by now you have heard that Asia Bibi’s case was not heard by the Pakistani Supreme Court. Perhaps some may wonder were our prayers in vain, or did Satan gain the upper hand here? I would say a resounding “NO”. I believe we were praying God’s heart for our sister, Asia. What we must now do is rest in God’s will. That He will bring good out of this, that is what the promise of Romans 8:28 is all about. We must trust that God’s acceptable, good, and perfect will is being worked out. This outcome in our sister’s case does not surprise God. He knew what was going to happen even before this trial started. We must trust in this. We must trust that God is still in control. Indeed when did He ever lose control? I want a thank those of you who came on the prayer call to pray united for Asia, her family, Pakistani Christians and the nation of Pakistan. I want to thank you for pouring out your heart to our Lord Jesus on behalf of our sister. We will continue to pour out our hearts and cry out for her release. But we will also continue to trust that God’s perfect will to be worked out in her life. We will continue to trust that God will do what will glorify Him in the life of our sister, Asia Bibi.
Your brother in Jesus, Blaine
Know that there is power in prayer and that GOD hears our cries for the persecuted. HE is mighty to save. TRUST and BELIEVE!
L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate