Radicals’ protests seem to have ended following a deal with the government for the revision of Bibi’s acquittal. The Christian woman's husband posts a video message online asking for British and US help.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – After Asia Bibi’s acquittal, and the countrywide protests by Islamic radicals, the Catholic Church of Pakistan has called on Christians to refrain from making negative comments about Islam on social media.
Yesterday, at the end of the Sunday Mass, Fr Inayat Bernard, rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Lahore, said: “Do not comment, like or share any post regarding other religions. We have just suffered a painful torment. Do not engage in a religious argument at your office or with friends. Respect others to promote peace and harmony. Play a positive role and stay strong in your faith."
Whilst things are getting back to normal in the country, security levels remained high around churches.
The Islamic parties demonstrated for three days, following the ruling Supreme Court that ordered the release of the Christian mother accused of blasphemy.
Calm returned after the government and extremist parties agreed on a revision of Asia Bibi’s sentence. However, telephone and internet services remain suspended in several cities, where protesters blocked road intersections, set fire to vehicles, attacked journalists and photographers.
Contacted by AsiaNews, several churches refused to comment on Asia Bibi and her situation.
For his part, Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, released a video-message from an unknown location.
"I am requesting the prime minister of the UK and the president of US to help us in Pakistan. We are in trouble. It has been 10 years since I have been struggling with Joseph Nadeem (Executive Director Renaissance Education Foundation). Please help both families. We will be thankful for this kindness, looking forward to shift us to a safe place,” he said.
For Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the left-leaning Labour Party, the agreement between radicals and the government is a disgrace. Initially, Prime Minister Imran Khan had appeared willing to resist the radicals’ pressures.
“The initiation of legal process to place Asia Bibi's name on the exit control list (ECL) is a worrisome U turn, a typical move by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government,” he said.
“This agreement is a victory of religious fundamentalists. This is a new form of fascism which is overtaking the society. This is worrisome for progressive forces and needs a new, fresh and solid diplomacy.”
Picture of Pope Francis meeting Joseph Nadeem (left), Ashiq Masih (middle), and one of Asia Bibi's daughters (right) in 2016.