The daughter of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman being held on death row in Pakistan, has spoken out about the alleged torture her mother experienced at the hands of alleged Islamic zealots.
"My friends told me that people were torturing my mother at the fields where she used to work," Esham Masih, who was nine years old at the time, told Mail Online. "I rushed to the spot and found that she was being abused and tortured by men."
The beating allegedly began after Bibi encountered some Muslim workers in the field where they all worked. The women accused her of being unclean because of her Christian faith and later said that she made disparaging remarks against the prophet Mohammed. After the beating, Bibi was taken into custody and sentenced to be hanged. Her case has drawn international attention from Christian and women's rights organizations. more >>
International Christian Concern has expressed hopes that Christian mother of five Asia Bibi could see her death sentence overturned by Pakistan's Supreme Court, despite pressure on judges from radical groups that are determined to see her executed.
"I think the chances of the Supreme Court overturning the death sentence are much greater than that of the High Court. In many cases, especially blasphemy cases, court decisions are influenced, either by ideology or threats, by local radical groups. Generally, the High Court is more insulated from this influence," William Stark, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia, told The Christian Post in an email on Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, in Asia's case, she is very high profile and the radical groups tracking her case and advocating for her death have already shown what they are willing to do to keep Asia's death sentence confirmed. Shabaz Bhatti, a federal government minister, and Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, were murdered for speaking out against the blasphemy charge against Asia," Stark continued. more >>
A group working to protect Christians from blasphemy laws has said that international pressure on Pakistan is needed to overturn the death penalty handed to Christian mother of five Asia Bibi. Christian leaders in Pakistan have vowed to continue appealing the case and fighting for the mother's life.
"We continue to hope because, as Christians, our faith nourishes hope. We continue to pray for Asia Bibi and for her release, so that the Lord protects and comforts her. But there are many elements that are not conducive to optimism," said Haroon Barkat, director of the Masihi Foundation, in an interview with Fides News Agency on Tuesday.
Barkat, whose group works in Pakistan to protect Christians falsely accused of blasphemy, added that "international pressures and mobilization can be useful" in influencing the case. He said that above all, "the political will of the government and of the highest authorities in Pakistan is needed" to put an end to the many false blasphemy cases where Christians in Pakistan are persecuted. more >>
The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called on Pakistan's Supreme Court to be prompt in hearing the appeal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children whose death sentence for "blasphemy" was upheld by the Lahore High Court this week.
CSW also called for proper security for Bibi, whose appeal was rejected by the Lahore High Court Thursday.
The Christian mother has "endured grueling conditions in nearly four years of detention on death row, much of it spent in solitary confinement," CSW said in a statement. "Her health has suffered and she has had severe restrictions on visitors." more >>
The death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five children, was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi has been convicted of blasphemy for drinking from the same bowl of water as Muslims and making derogatory comments about the prophet Muhammad.
"The case against Asia Bibi is a great example of how Christians and other religious minorities are abused in Pakistan by fundamentalists wielding the controversial blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws were originally written to protect against religious intolerance in Pakistan, but the law has warped into a tool used by extremists and others to settle personal scores and persecute Pakistan's vulnerable religious minorities," said International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark.
"Sadly, the vast majority of blasphemy accusations brought against Christians and others are false. Unfortunately, pressure from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan has transformed trial courts and now appeals courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case." more >>
A Christian pastor accused of blasphemy was shot dead by police in a Pakistani jail in Rawalpindi. A persecution watchdog group has said this is the latest incident of blasphemy laws being used to commit human rights violations.
"This is a barbaric act," Xavier Williams of Life for All told The Express Tribune. "There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti's safety."
Zafar Bhatti had been imprisoned at Adiyala jail since 2012, The Express Tribune reported. His 70-year-old cellmate, Muhammad Asghar, who has a history of mental illness, was wounded in the shooting attack. Asghar has also been accused of blasphemy in the heavily Muslim country. The men had been receiving death threats both from guards and fellow prisoners. more >>