12/10/2010, 00.00
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Asia Bibi at the heart of World Day for Human Rights

by Jibran Khan
Former Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, Ansar Burney, has requested that those who threaten or call for the killing of the Christian woman be prosecuted. The President of Pakistan Christian Congress asks Washington to put pressure on Islamabad to abolish the blasphemy law.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The case of Asia Bibi is the focus of the Human Rights Day in Washington. Meanwhile in Pakistan, Ansar Burney, UN councilor for Human Rights, and former Federal Minister for Human Rights in the country has asked President Zardari to pursue and bring to court those who have issued an Islamic decree ordering the illegal killing of the woman, who is innocent.

Ansar Burney said he feared very much that Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death at first instance under the blasphemy law, and her family could be killed during her detention, at the hearing that the high court must fix for her appeal, or should she be released. He alleged that the Punjab government is totally silent on this issue, and allows openly fundamentalist groups to decide the fate of prisoners in the name of Islam.

Ansar Burney wrote in his letter: "I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, on the charges of alleged blasphemy by a court and the government’s inability to prosecute those nonsense elements who are openly announcing their intention to kill her or award cash money for that purpose"

Meanwhile, celebrating World Day for Human Rights in the National Press Club in Washington Nazir Bhatti, president of the Congress of Christians in Pakistan gave a speech. "I would like to invite you to pay attention to the misuse of Islamic laws by the Muslim majority against religious minorities, particularly the blasphemy laws used to target innocent people," Bhatti said.

Bhatti added, " We have grave concerns about the safety of Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death on an accusation of blasphemy law Section 295 B and C PPC on November 8, 2010, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, which by the way is toughest for minorities. On this Day, Universal Human Right Day, we Pakistani Christian appeal to US administration to press upon government of Pakistan to repeal controversial blasphemy law which is being used against religious minorities to settle business rivalries and personal petty disputes. We also appeal US administration to condition aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar with religious freedom and human rights so that every citizen of Pakistan may enjoy equal basic democratic and human rights" Bhatti has also warned the United Nations accepting the Pakistani proposal to globalize the blasphemy law.

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