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High Court to announce verdict on Asia Bibi’s final appeal against execution

 

(Voice of the Persecuted) According to a supplementary cause list issued by the Pakistani Supreme Court on Monday, the verdict on Bibi’s final legal appeal against execution will be announced at 9 a.m on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. The appeal challenged the Lahore High Court’s October 2014 verdict of upholding a trial court’s November 2010 decision of sentencing Bibi to death for committing blasphemy.

Generally the Supreme Court announces decisions the same day. After hearing hours of testimony on Oct. 8th, the Court deferred the ruling in Bibi’s appeal case to an undisclosed later date. The court also restrained both electronic and print media from discussing or commenting on the matter untli the final judgement. Many believe these actions were taken for security purposes.

The 51-year-old Christian firmly denies the alleged charges against her.

If the Supreme Court upholds her conviction, her only recourse will be a direct appeal to the president for clemency. If that fails, she could become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy.

If she’s acquitted, a high level of security will be necessary. There’s no doubt that her life will be in jeopardy. There are other risks of mob rioting and violence. Christians are generally apprehensive that they may become victims of a backlash.

Please pray for Asia’s release, peace in Pakistan and for our brothers and sisters living in the country.

Pakistan: Islamic groups threaten Supreme Court judges ahead of Asia Bibi ruling

(World Watch Monitor) Radical religious groups in Pakistan have called for mass protests and threatened the judges of the country’s Supreme Court in Islamabad ahead of their ruling in the blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

The hardline Islamic party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened the judges in a press conference on YouTube, saying that if Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, were to receive clemency, the justices would meet a “horrible” end, reported AFP.

Meanwhile another religious group, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, asked the Supreme Court to order that, if Asia Bibi is released, she would not be able to leave the country.

“Western forces are trying to get Asia Bibi out of the country but she should be hanged,” the petitioner, Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, told AFP.

The TLP also announced it would hold a rally on Friday, 12 October, and on social media radical voices call for Asia Bibi to be hanged.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the much-delayed appeal of Asia Bibi, on Monday, 8 October. It did not announce its decision, saying it would ‘reserve judgment’ for several days or possibly weeks.

The story of Asia Bibi

Noreen received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

In June 2009, Noreen, then about 38, was picking berries in the fields as a day labourer in Sheikhupura, outside Lahore in eastern Pakistan. It was hot. She brought water to a female co-worker, who objected that the touch of a Christian had made the water haram, or religiously forbidden for Muslims. The woman apparently told Noreen to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Noreen’s rejoinder was perceived as an insult to Islam. She was arrested, accused of blasphemy against the Prophet and the Qur’an, and has been in prison ever since.

The Muslim woman, with her sister, were the only two eyewitnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

In the Lahore High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s then-lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged only five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued that, during her 2010 trial, the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.

Salaam was filmed by an international film crew for a film about Bibi in 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.

Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, owner of the field in which Noreen worked, was not present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.

However, the High Court ruled that it had no choice but to let the conviction and death penalty stand, based on the way the country’s laws are written, and on what it characterised as an inept trial defence.

At the same time, the court asked Pakistan’s lawmakers to craft legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve.

Noreen’s lawyer then filed an appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court and in July 2015 it agreed it would hear Noreen’s case.

Commentators praised the Court for its courage to hear the appeal in the face of strong public sentiment against anyone seen to denigrate Islam, with some calling it a “historic day for Pakistan”.

However, the appeal stalled in late 2016 when one member of the three-judge panel recused himself.

In April 2018 Pakistan’s chief justice, Saqib Nisar, told Noreen’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, that he would hear Asia’s appeal soon.

Since then Malook, who was the prosecution lawyer in the case of the murder of Punjab Governor Taseer, has been under 24-hours protection. Ahead of the hearing in Islamabad on 8 October he told AP News, “I have lost my health. I am a high blood pressure patient, my privacy is totally lost. You have to be in hiding,” as everyone knew his identity. “They look at this house and they know this is the home of a person who can be killed at any time by angry mullahs,” he said.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is the last possibility for Noreen to see her death sentence repealed or she has to appeal to the President for mercy.

International attention

Bibi’s case has attracted global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores.

In 2011 two prominent Pakistani politicians, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated after they spoke publicly in Bibi’s defence.

Following the killing of Taseer, Governor of Punjab, Bibi’s husband said she was “very afraid”. “She knows the Muslims have announced a price on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” he said. Authorities increased her security and moved her to an all-women facility, Multan Prison.

In May 2018 another politician who has championed the country’s minority communities, Ahsan Iqbal, survived an assassination attempt by a gunman protesting against the country’s blasphemy laws.

Pope Benedict XVI made a public plea for clemency and the EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, told Pakistani officials that the renewal of their export privileges to Europe would depend on the release of Asia Bibi.

  • June 2009  Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, mother of five, is arrested on charges of blasphemy
  • November 2010  Noreen convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Her lawyer appeals verdict.
  • January 2011 Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab Province who supported Noreen and called for reform of the country’s blasphemy laws, is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. As a result authorities increase security for Noreen and she is moved to the all-women Multan Prison.
  • March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs who supported Noreen’s case and was outspoken critic of country’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, is assassinated.
  • October 2011 News emerges that Asia has been beaten by prison officer.
  • March 2014 Lahore High Court starts appeal hearing but case keeps circulating among several judges who postpone its hearing, allegedly for fear of reprisal from extremist elements.
  • October 2014 The Lahore High Court confirms Noreen’s death sentence
  • November 2014 Noreen’s lawyer files appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
  • February 2015 Noreen’s husband speaks out about how family’s lives are under constant threat following her conviction and sentencing five years ago.
  • July 2015 Supreme Court decides to hear Noreen’s appeal.
  • October 2015 Noreen is moved to solitary prison cell because of fears for her security after Supreme Court upholds sentence against former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murderer.
  • October 2016 About 150 top Muslim clerics from radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek call for Noreen to be hanged.
  • April 2017 Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi renews call for Noreen’s execution.
  • October 2017 Noreen nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
  • November 2017 Three European Parliament members visit Noreen’s family in Pakistan.
  • December 2017 The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, tells Pakistani officials that renewal of export privileges to Europe depends on Noreen’s release.
  • February 2018 Noreen’s husband and daughter meet Pope Francis in the Vatican.
  • April 2018 Chief Justice Saqib Nisar announces he will hear Noreen’s appeal soon.
  • May 2018 Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s interior minister and supporter of the country’s minority communities, survives assassination attempt after meeting prevent her from Christians in his constituency.
  • October 8, 2018 Supreme Court hears Noreen’s case but delays ruling.
  • October 10, 2018 Radical religious groups threaten judges over possibility of releasing Noreen, and ask High Court to leaving the country.

 

High Court hears Asia Bibi’s final death sentence appeal, but holds back verdict

 

Asia Bibi was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and her case is one of the most controversial

(VOP) There is much speculation about the outcome of Asia Bibi’s final appeal heard today by a special three-member bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel. They will decide whether or not to confirm the death sentence of Asia Bibi. The chief justice warned the media and those present against commenting on or discussing the case until the court’s detailed judgement has been issued. No date is given when the Supreme Court will announce it’s decision.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of 5, was accused of blasphemy in 2009. In 2010, she was sentenced to death by hanging and spends her time in solitary confinement cooking her own meals to prevent an assassination attempt. Asia firmly denies the blasphemy allegations against her. If you are unfamiliar with the charges and details of her case, please read: What you need to know about Asia Bibi’s trial

Covering today’s appeal, Fides News agency shared that Christians in Pakistan await with bated breath, immersed in prayer and the conclusion of this final hearing. In the report Fr. James Channan who runs the ‘Peace Center’ in Lahore shared,

“It is good to know that, after such a long time, Asia Bibi’s case is brought to trial. Many people are praying for her release in Pakistan and around the world. It is our firm hope that, thanks to continuous prayer, she can be released. I am sure that the panel of judges will examine the case without prejudice and that justice will be done, without being influenced by external pressures. I pray that Asia may be released soon and may reunite with her family members who have lived many years of pain and anguish. If she is released, it will also give great relief to all those who, in the world, have felt deeply involved in this case, praying for her, so that this innocent woman may finally have justice. Moreover, if she is proved innocent, it will be necessary to punish those who falsely accused her, abusing the controversial blasphemy law”. He concluded, “Today we also remember those who were killed because of the support given to Asia Bibi: former governor of the Punjab province, the Muslim Salman Taseer and the Catholic leader Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs. We hope their sacrifice was not in vain”.

Some are expecting the verdict to be announced within a couple of days, others believe that the risk of national riots and violence may delay the court’s verdict for sometime. Speaking to Voice of the Persecuted, a Pakistani Christian shared,

“The government doesn’t want her to be there anyways but the pressure from hardliners is keeping them from releasing her. There could be a national revolt if she is released so nobody has been willing to take the risk. If she is executed then Pakistan will face huge international humiliation. It needs to go through the due process and it will be a very tough decision.”

Asia is expected to ask the nation’s president for clemency if her appeal is rejected by the Supreme Court. Dawn News reports, “If that fails, she could become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy”.

Asia’s husband and youngest daughter are in the U.K. as guests of the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need. Her husband told the Catholic News Service that they visited Bibi in Multan Prison on Oct. 1. He declared she was in good health, psychologically, physically and spiritually strong, contrary to reports that she was developing dementia. He relayed that Asia had a message that the international community must remember her in their prayers and that those prayers would open the prison doors for her soon release. He also said that while Asia is praying, she feels Jesus encouraging and supporting her, that she was ready and willing to die for Christ and would never convert to Islam.

She has suffered so long. Please keep our dear sister, Asia, in your prayers. May God have mercy on her. Pray also for Pakistani Christians and the nation of Pakistan.

The movie below was filmed in 2014 in Pakistan, France and Italy. It features Asia Bibi’s family, her lawyers, journalists and friends, all actively engaged in campaigning for her release. It also includes an interview with Anne Isabelle Tollet, the journalist and author of the book Blasphemy, helping to bring public attention to Asia’s case.

Government of Pakistan Bows to Islamists on ‘Blasphemy’ Suspects, Critics Say

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – The government’s inability to withstand the violent protests and demands of the upstart, Muslim extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) has also further imperiled religious minorities, especially Christians, as it resulted in the state tacitly agreeing to facilitate registration of blasphemy cases and assuring that officials will show no leniency to blasphemy suspects, they said. “The government’s succumbing to Islamists’ pressure will surely have an adverse effect on Asia Bibi’s case, as her appeal is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court in December,” said her lead counsel in the high court, Saiful Malook, noting that the Islamist upsurge could influence judges. “It is Asia’s fundamental right to appeal her death sentence, but the naked threats made to judges from the podium at the protest sit-in at Faizabad, in full view of the state, and its subsequent surrender to their demands, does not bode well for Asia and all other people accused of blasphemy as well as their defenders.”

The protest sit-in by Barelvi Muslims led by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi under the banner of TLYR started at the Faizabad Interchange, the main highway linking the garrison city of Rawalpindi with the federal capital Islamabad, on Nov 5.

The TLYR’s two main demands were the resignation of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid over a controversial amendment to the elections bill recently passed by the country’s National Assembly, and the execution of Noreen, waiting a Supreme Court appeal of her death sentence.

Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Although international attorneys note that lower courts did not consider which of three statements attributed to her were “blasphemous” nor prove the intent to blaspheme necessary for conviction, the courts upheld her conviction.

Attorney Malook said reverberations of the “deal” signed between the government and TLYR under the army’s pressure will be felt for a long time. Malook, also the special prosecutor in the assassination case of Punjab Province Gov. Salmaan Taseer, has since been on the hit-list of Muslim extremists. A Muslim, he said the government’s capitulation to TLYR has also increased security fears for him, “but I will not withdraw from the case.”

“I took upon Asia’s appeal knowing the risks involved, but I must admit that the recent events in Pakistan have instilled some fear in me,” he said. “The government has not increased my security despite the fact that I am quite vulnerable to extremists. If anything happens to me, what effect will it have on other lawyers defending people accused of blasphemy?”

Rights activist Shakeel Naz said the state had sacrificed the religious minorities just to perpetuate its rule.

“The PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] government has been humiliated, and the military leadership has further improved its standing with sections of the public for helping end the protests, but at what cost to the country and its people, particularly religious minorities?” Naz told Morning Star News.

A menacing precedent has been set by Islamic extremists that will embolden others to take to the streets and do anything they want without impunity, he said.

“It is no exaggeration to suggest that no one is safe in this country now,” he said. “I am still finding it hard to digest – how could the government cave in to such ridiculous demands, knowing very well that it will roll back all the progress that has been made thus far in trying to make Pakistan a religiously moderate country?”

Naz said that by agreeing to TLYR’s demand of inclusion in the text book curriculum-setting committee, the government has conveniently allowed Islamists to push their extremist ideology onto schoolchildren.

PML-N Sen. Kamran Michael, a Christian, and other government-backed politicians shied away from Morning Star News’ requests for comment.

Napolean Qayyum, a minority leader for the Pakistan People’s Party, minced no words in criticizing the PML-N government and the military leadership for ceding to the protestors’ “illogical” demands.

“It’s a known fact that all major incidents of Christian persecution have taken place during the terms of the PML-N government,” he said. “They have always looked the other way when minority settlements were attacked by zealots, and now when their government itself came under attack, they simply caved in to the extremists’ demands.”

Slamming the government for agreeing to drop over 20 cases of terrorism, violent rioting and murder against TLYR members and releasing them from custody, Qayyum questioned whether the government would also show the same magnanimity to Christians by releasing over 40 people accused of violent riots and lynching of two Muslims in the aftermath of the twin suicide attacks in Youhanabad two years ago.

“Isn’t it blatant discrimination against Christians as all Muslims involved in violence and killings are let off without due punishment, while innocent Christians are languishing in jail on terrorism charges?” he said. “Should they not be judged by the same yardstick? Just because our Christian leadership is weak and our representatives in parliament are mere puppets, the government does not even feel a bit concerned about our people. This is a clear manifestation of the discrimination we face as Christians in Pakistan.”

Islamist Demands

The controversial amendment to the elections bill passed by the National Assembly concerned an oath for Muslim lawmakers declaring their faith in the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (finality of prophethood) of Muhammad. TLYR members believed a “conspiracy” to change the oath was carried out at the behest of the minority Ahmadi sect to enable them to gain entry to parliament.

Pakistani Muslims, in the form of a national identity card or as members of the assembly, have to declare that they are Muslims and believe that Muhammad was the final prophet.

The PML-N government initially reversed the amendment and sought to allay the Barelvi clerics’ concerns by blaming “a clerical error” for the omission in the oath, but the TLYR dug in its heels, demanding the law minister’s resignation, the names of those responsible for the “clerical error” be made public and they be punished, and the hanging of Noreen.

The following are the TLYR demands to which the government conceded:

  • Remove Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid from his position immediately, with the trade-off that “TLYR will issue no fatwa [Muslim decree] of any kind against him.”
  • The report prepared by Raja Zafarul Haq-led committee will be made public within 30 days, and whoever is named in the report for being responsible for the change in the election oath will be acted against under the law.
  • All protestors arrested on Nov. 6 until the end of the sit-in, across the country, will be released within one to three days. The cases registered against them and the house arrests imposed on them will be ended.
  • An inquiry board will be established to probe and decide what action to take against the government and administration officials over the operation conducted by security forces against protestors on Nov. 25. The enquiry should be completed within 30 days, and action will be taken against those found responsible.
  • The federal and provincial governments will determine and compensate the loss of government and private assets incurred from Nov. 6 until the end of the sit-in.
  • The points already agreed to concerning the government of Punjab Province will be fully implemented.

The document ends by crediting Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and his representative team for their “special efforts” that led to the agreement being signed.

“We are thankful to him for saving the nation from a big catastrophe,” it concludes.

Besides the interior minister, the document bears the signatures of TLYR leader Khadim Rizvi, Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza, two other protest leaders and Director General of the Punjab Rangers, Maj. Gen. Faiz Hameed, who facilitated the agreement.

In a revelation that has caused shudders in minority ranks, Muslim cleric Rizvi has claimed that the government has also accepted his following demands:

  • No difficulty will be faced in registering cases under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (blasphemy laws).
  • No leniency will be given to those convicted by courts for blasphemy.
  • Noreen will not be allowed to leave Pakistan in any case, and her execution will be promptly carried out.
  • No ban will be imposed on the use of loudspeakers.
  • The foreign and interior ministries will take steps for the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, after taking her mother and sister in confidence.
  • Two representatives of TLYR will be included in the panel assigned to decide changes in the textbook board. The officials will push for inclusion of translation of the Koran and Seeratun Nabi (Life of Muhammad) chapters and information about Muslim leaders.
  • Every year, Nov. 25 will be observed as “Martyrs of Prophet’s Honor Day.”

TLYR was formed after the execution of Malik Mumtaz Qadri in February 2016. Qadri, a Barelvi, was a police commando who assassinated Taseer in January 2011 after the Punjab governor called for the release of Noreen, a Christian mother of two and stepmother to three others.

An Islamist movement group begun in 2015, TLYR registered as a political party in August and contested a by-election on a National Assembly seat from Lahore that fell vacant after the Supreme Court’s disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case on July 28.

The constituency is a stronghold of the ruling Sharif family, and even though Sharif’s wife won the seat, TYLR’s Begum Kulsoom Nawaz managed to bag more than 7,000 votes. That was more than the candidate of the liberal Pakistan People’s Party, which has already sacrificed two officials, Taseer and former Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, to Islamic terrorism during its term in government.

TLYR’s growing influence among the Pakistani masses, particularly its desire for imposing stricter blasphemy laws, enabled it to hold the federal capital hostage for more than two weeks with hardly a few hundred supporters.

The PML-N government avoided action against the protest sit-in for 20 days despite orders of the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court to clear the area of protestors who “openly challenged the writ of the government by making inciting and abusive speeches,” as it feared the protests would grow into a countrywide movement.

On Nov. 25 the Islamabad administration finally launched an operation against TLYR protestors on court orders, but without proper planning and motivation. The botched operation met with fierce resistance from the protestors, resulting in the deaths of at least six protestors and serious injuries to more than 200 people, many of them law enforcement personnel.

At least 150 demonstrators were taken into custody during the riots in Islamabad, which also saw a large number of police and private vehicles torched and property vandalized by frenzied mobs.

The operation’s failure resulted in mass protests in several cities by Islamist groups hoping to take the opportunity to regain their grip on the state by street power. A few hundred Muslim extremists locked down major cities, including Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta, as police and other law enforcement officials looked on in despair.

The mobs also attacked residences of several government ministers and lawmakers in Punjab, injuring a PML-N Member of National Assembly Mian Javed Latif in Sheikhupura.

Fearing that the widespread protests could result in the collapse of its government, the beleaguered PML-N sought the help of the Pakistan army in maintaining order. Then it was bitterly surprised when Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa refused to “use force against our own people.” Instead, he “advised” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to find a peaceful solution to the issue.

Without the army’s support, the PML-N quickly succumbed to the protestors’ demands, dealing a devastating blow to the legitimacy and moral standing of the government and all state institutions.

Pakistan ranked fourth on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law: Origin of 295-C

In July 1986, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, III of 1986, S. 2. The passage of this Act amended Chapter XV of the Pakistan Penal Code, entitled “Offences Relating to Religion”, via the creation of Article 295-C.

View this short video which tells the story of the National Assembly session on 9 July 1986 leading up to the passage of the 295-C amendment. It was during this session that 295-C took on its final form and punishment by death was introduced into the legislation. As the video shows, Members of the National Assembly who supported the introduction of the death penalty claimed that their position was in accordance with the universal consensus of Islamic legal scholars throughout history. In fact, however, the position of those who supported the death penalty was based on misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the very scholars they claimed to be following. As such, this video seeks to educate the public about the real positions of these scholars.


 

Did God Hear Our Prayers? What We Can Do To Help Asia Bibi Now

help-asia-bibi

(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

Asia Bibi’s final appeal against blasphemy to be heard in Supreme Court

free-asia-bibi-death-sentence

LAHORE: The Supreme Court is due to hear the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, accused for blasphemy, on Thursday. Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.

This will be the final appeal for Asia Bibi, some six years after she was sentenced to death, accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.

“There is no question that what is at stake is the very soul of the state and Pakistan society: does Pakistan respect the rights of the most vulnerable? Does it defend those rights against spurious allegations even where those allegations involved matters that are sacred to most Pakistanis?” Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South Asia, told AFP recently.

Bibi was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010, despite her advocates maintaining her innocence and insisting the accusers held grudges against her.

The allegations against Bibi date back to… READ MORE

URGENT PRAYER CALL

Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Director, Blaine Scogin, who is also Director of Persecution Watch, will convene on Wednesday evening, Oct 12, 2016, a special prayer conference call to pray for Asia Bibi and the persecuted church. We invite all who are led by the Holy Spirit to please come and pray with us and lift up our sister and her family in prayer.  Call info is below.
Date of Call…….
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 (from any location using your phone)
Time of call…….
9 p.m. Eastern
8 p.m. Central
7 p.m. Mountain
6 p.m. Pacific
Note: It will be 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct.13 (the date of her trial) in Pakistan when this prayer call begins
Call number and access code are…….
712.775.7035…….281207#

Christian advocacy groups such as CSW and many church leaders are also calling for 24 hour prayer beginning Oct. 12th before her trial begins.

Prayer Points from CSW:

  • That Asia would be acquitted
  • For her strength and restoration during and after the hearing
  • For wisdom and protection for Saiful Malook, her lawyer; and for the judges hearing her case
  • For the wider Christian community who may face a backlash whatever the outcome of the appeal
  • For an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pakistan, to maintain calm in the country.
  • For justice for others accused of blasphemy, and that the government would urgently amend the blasphemy laws

Join with Voice of the Persecuted in daily prayer for Asia and remember her on Wednesday, October 12th 

An Urgent Call To Prayer! Asia Bibi’s life hangs in the balance, death sentence appeal to be heard on Thursday

pakistan-asia-bibi16

(Voice of the Persecuted) Asia Bibi is a Christian mother of five and the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy (insulting the Prophet Mohammed). She has been imprisoned and suffering on death row since 2009. For fear she may be assassinated in prison, she is alone in a cell and forced to cook her own meals to prevent poisoning.

Pakistan’s Supreme court announced her appeal will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016,  She desperately needs our prayers.

On a very hot day in June 2009. Asia’s Muslim co-workers refused to drink water she had brought for them.  They considered her Christian faith made her unclean and she had defiled the water.

An argument ensued and Asia was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed. She has always denied this charge, but she was sentenced to death 5 months later.

AFP reports that radical voices in Pakistan continue to call for her hanging.

Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South Asia, encouraged the Supreme Court to rule in Bibi’s favor, as it would “send a powerful message to the world that Pakistan respects the rule of law and not the mob.”

However, many fear if Asia is released violent protests will erupt and Christians will be targeted.

We, along with others, have advocated for our Christian sister languishing alone in a prison cell as she prays for her sentenced to be repealed. VOP and groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, are also urging Christians to speak out for Bibi ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision, which could lead to her execution. You can sign their petition here.

If the death sentence is upheld, Asia will become the first woman in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy.

While praying for Asia, a member of Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Warrior team was reminded of a scripture that she had copied out a few months ago to pray for her. She admitted that although she had been praying for her most days, she had not often declared this scripture.

Psalm 102:19-20 
For He looked down from His holy height;
From heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To set free those who were doomed to death,
She expressed that now is the time for us to declare it together for Asia. That by praying the Word of God, these scriptures, will be a powerful petition to the Lord on behalf of our dear suffering sister and we are in agreement. Who will stand with her and our prayer team by declaring in prayer, Psalm 102:19-20, for Asia’s upcoming court hearing?
 .
Voice of the Persecuted’s Prayer Director, Blaine Scogin, who is also Director of Persecution Watch, will convene on Tuesday night, Oct. 11, a special prayer conference call to pray for Asia Bibi and the persecuted church. We invite all who are led by the Holy Spirit to please come and pray with us tomorrow night and lift up our sister and her family in prayer.  Call info is below.
UPDATE:  We will be holding a second prayer conference call on Wednesday, Oct. 12
Dates of Call…….
Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 (from any location using your phone)
Time of call…….
9 p.m. Eastern
8 p.m. Central
7 p.m. Mountain
6 p.m. Pacific
Call number and access code are…….
712.775.7035…….281207#

Christian advocacy groups such as CSW and many church leaders are also calling for 24 hour prayer beginning Oct. 12th as her trial begins.

Prayer Points from CSW:

  • That Asia would be acquitted
  • For her strength and restoration during and after the hearing
  • For wisdom and protection for Saiful Malook, her lawyer; and for the judges hearing her case
  • For the wider Christian community who may face a backlash whatever the outcome of the appeal
  • For an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pakistan, to maintain calm in the country.
  • For justice for others accused of blasphemy, and that the government would urgently amend the blasphemy laws

Join with Voice of the Persecuted in daily prayer for Asia and remember her on Wednesday, October 12th as her trial begins. 

L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate

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