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» 04/07/2011
PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi gravely ill, fears for her life, after three months in solitary isolation
by Jibran Khan
The Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy has been ill with chicken pox, probably because of the unhygienic conditions of the cell where she is kept. Christians concern for the growing violence against them. Bishop Rufin Anthony: "This Lent we pray for peace in Pakistan. A Pakistan where we can all live freely. "

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Asia Bibi is sick, in solitary confinement, and there are growing concerns for her life. The Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy on false evidence is sick with chicken pox, because of the appallingly unhygienic conditions she is being kept in. The complaint comes from Haroon Barket Masih, president of the Masih Foundation, who today issued a statement: "Asia Bibi was diagnosed with chicken pox, she has been kept in solitary confinement for more than three months. We have expressed concern about her health, because she spends24 hours a day locked in the cell. She needs medical care, hygienic and healthy conditions. She fell ill with chickenpox because of the dirty environment, and being unable to clean her room or bed sheets on which she sleeps. Despite her ill health she spends her time fasting and praying for everyone, she neglects her health and prays for everyone else. She is concerned about the current situation in Pakistan. We are trying to arrange a medical examination, and to ensure acceptable hygienic conditions. Until now she has had no medical care. "

Masih also declared: "Recently, Mothers Day was celebrated in Europe, we all celebrated Mother’s Day, people sent cards and postcards, but who remembered this sick woman praying and fasting in her cell? Did she not want to be with her children too? She is a mother. She prayed for her children. Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi who prays and fasts. "

But the situation for Christians in Pakistan seems to be worsening by the day. Perviaz Masih, a resident of Lala Musa, a small town 75 km from Lahore, was threatened for being Christian. Pervaiz Masih is the father of three children and works for Pakistan Railways in Lala Musa. It all started when the Koran was burned in Florida. Masih has defended his faith in a discussion at work. He said: "Christianity is a religion of peace, and we condemn this act." But his colleagues were not convinced, and began to threaten him. Pervaiz Masih and his family fled the house on April 4 last and are in hiding since then. Extremist elements in society are becoming violent, and the situation in Pakistan grows worse day by day. The growing extremism in Pakistan is a concern not only for minorities but also for the government.

Bishop Anthony Rufin told AsiaNews: "I am saddened by the news about Asia Bibi, on her state of health and the state in which she lives. The Catholic Church prays for her salvation, and prays that she will be treated. It 's a difficult time for the minorities in Pakistan, incidents of violence are becoming more numerous, for how long will we live in fear? How many more Pervaiz Masih will have to live in hiding? We must work together for a campaign to promote harmony and tolerance. This Lent we pray for peace in Pakistan. A Pakistan where we can all live freely. "

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See also
03/28/2011 PAKISTAN - UNITED STATES
Two Christians killed, churches burned: extremists respond to Florida Koran burning
by Jibran Khan
03/30/2011 PAKISTAN
Shahbaz Batthi killed by a "mafia" of fundamentalists holding the government hostage
by Fareed Khan
02/12/2011 PAKISTAN
Islamabad confirms Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti as Minister for minorities
by Jibran Khan
03/02/2011 PAKISTAN
Pain and sorrow of the Pakistani Church and the world over the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti
11/08/2011 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi “frail” yet “strong a year since she was sentenced to death for blasphemy

Editor's choices
LEBANON
Muslims defend Christians’ freedom in Beirut DeclarationFreedom of religion, education and opinion are defended by quoting the Qur’ān, which is the basis for the rule of law, not a religious state. Lebanese Sunnis slam violence committed in the name of God. The full declaration is reprinted here.
LEBANON
Islamic Makassed launch doctrinal battle against Muslim extremism
by Fady NounOfficial reference point for Lebanon’s Sunnis approves a document entitled "Beirut Declaration on Religious Freedom". Speculation over whether Dar el-Fatwa will succeed in gradually regaining control of Islamic religious teaching in the nation’s mosques.
HONG KONG – CHINA
For Card Zen, removing crosses in Zhejiang is an insult to the faith of CatholicsHong Kong’s bishop emeritus has come to the conclusion that the campaign to dismantle crosses and religious buildings is part of a broader, nation-wide strategy, and constitutes regression in terms of the mainland's religious policy. Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong now fear that it might happen to them. In Zhejiang, another 15 religious buildings are slated for destruction by 1 September.

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