Islamabad (AsiaNews) - "It's really a shame", says Msgr. Rufin Anthony, Catholic bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi in comments to AsiaNews about the death sentence against Asia Bibi (see photo), the woman convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan's Punjab state. The prelate stresses that the law is abused and manipulated for petty reasons and it is time to repeal it to make Pakistan a modern country.
"In the villages - the bishop says – there is a lot of meanness. I asked a woman about the characteristics of her [Asia Bibi] village. She replied immediately: Malice, envy, apathy and brutality. Here is the full picture. Can this justify the killing of a good person? The answer is no! I think that the blasphemy law should be repealed, is not at all suited to the world of the 21st century".
Already, a year ago, the Justice and Peace Commission in Pakistan had asked for the abolition of the blasphemy law, collecting more than 75 000 signatures from Christians and Muslims. AsiaNews had helped to spread their campaign in Italy and at the European Parliament (see dossier Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law).
These days, after the ruling against Asia Bibi, many nongovernmental organizations in the country are gathering signatures for the same reason. In a few days more than 40 thousand signatures have invaded government offices calling for the liberation of women.
Aid to the Church in Need has also launched a signature campaign in France and Italy. Other groups in India and the United States have launched campaigns against the blasphemy laws.
AsiaNews launched its campaign yesterday urging its readers to "do something", and in a few hours collected more than 500 signatures from Italy, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, India, Great Britain, ...
Among the first to sign up, were Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, the famous Egyptian scholar on Islam, Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, Kenneth Lewis, president of International Christian News, David Cantagalli, editor. There are also several messages from cloistered monasteries, praying for Bibi Asia and Pakistan.
As reported yesterday, the campaign asks you to save Bibi Asia and Pakistan, by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or directly to President Asif Zardari to this address: email@example.com .
Some readers have asked for a basic text to be sent as a message to President Zardari. Here it is:
To Mr Asif Ali Zardari,
The President of Pakistan
November 15, 2010
Asia Bibi’s death sentence is not just a sentence, it is a State crime.
Therefore I hope you will not permit that, not only because of your sense of Justice but also because it is badly affecting the reputation of your country.
Please intervene as soon as possible to reduce the pains Asia Bibi and her family are suffering.
Moreover the constant deliberate persecution of Pakistani Christians through the law on blasphemy is offending the Almighty God more than any human being.