11/29/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Asia Bibi fears for her life, while awaiting a government decision

by Jibran Khan
Islamic radicals still on a war footing against the possibility of a pardon for the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. The Taliban announces that they will oppose it in every way, and the leader of the Sunni council threatens "anarchy in the country." Her husband: "Asia Bibi fears for her family."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The religious radicals in Pakistan have warned the president against the risk of provoking a wave of public outrage if he grants a pardon to the woman convicted of blasphemy. This conflict highlights the government's difficult relations with the official religion, in a country where few wish to be considered soft on the enemies of Islam. Religious fundamentalists took to the streets in Lahore and Karachi Friday, November 26th to show their anger while the Pakistani government decides whether to grant clemency to a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Many Pakistani Muslims feel offended by the notion that the death sentence of Asia Bibi could be revoked.

According to reports, the demonstrations were organized by an association close to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a charitable organization that is banned by the UN because suspected of terrorist links. The chief coordinator of the JuD, Qari Yaqub, told protesters: "We will protest at the national level if the government forgives the Christian woman." The head of the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahibzada Fazal Kareem, told AsiaNews: "A pardon would lead to anarchy in the country. Our position is very clear, this punishment can not be cancelled. " Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, deputy head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has warned of serious consequences if the government graces the woman, who was sentenced on 8 November 2010 for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Faqir Muhammad, speaking from an undisclosed location to an international news channel, said that the Taliban will resist any attempt to pardon Asia Bibi.

Asia Bibi's husband, Ashiq Maisha, speaking in Punjabi to AsiaNews said: "Asia had been very strong in prison.She is different now. She is mentally stressed. She is very scared for her life and for the life of her family". The family home is now a single bedroom, down a side street of a Christian colony. A cheery sign hangs on the wall as a reminder of the family's faith - "God Bless Our Home" - but the patchy whitewash, dirty beds and incessant buzz of mosquitoes reek of quiet desperation.

AsiaNews continues its campaign to help Asia Bibi. Signatures are still coming in, and we are approaching 6thousand. Send an email to: salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it

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