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    » 11/16/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Bishop of Islamabad, Asia Bibi case "a disgrace" . A campaign by AsiaNews

    Jibran Khan

    Mgr. Rufin Anthony the blasphemy law “must be repealed; it does not fit with 21st century world " Petitions to save Asia Bibi and repeal the blasphemy law in Pakistan, Italy, USA, India, France. Within hours, the AsiaNews site received over 500 signatures. Even cloistered monasteries prayfor Asia Bibi. A text to send to President Asif Zardari.

    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 I think that the blasphemy law should be repealed, is not at all suited to the world of the 21st century".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 salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it , or directly to President Asif Zardari to this address: publicmail@president.gov.pk .

    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

     

    Mr. President,

    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.

    Sincerely

    (signature)

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    See also

    02/12/2010 PAKISTAN
    Asia Bibi: fears over safety, controversy over stay on pardon
    The lawyers of the Supreme Court to protest stay on pardon by the President. A committee will hear religious and political leaders and experts will present to Parliament proposals to amend the blasphemy laws. Date for the appeal against the death sentence still not set.

    18/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Some 2,500 people sign petition against Asia Bibi’s “disgraceful” sentence
    Our appeal is picked up in Hungary and Eastern Europe. Punjab governor calls Bibi’s case “disgraceful”, an “embarrassment for Pakistan”. Pakistan’s Minorities minister says the sentence will not be carried out and that the woman can appeal the verdict.

    20/12/2011 PAKISTAN
    Christmas in prison for Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy
    She appears frail, in poor health. Grateful for prayers and calls for help and support, that she may soon return to embrace her husband and daughters. Despite the suffering, Asia has forgiven her captors and wonders how many more Christian victims will fall beneath the specter of the "black law".

    16/12/2010 PAKISTAN
    Asia Bibi “can be killed anytime,” Pakistani priest says
    The fight against the blasphemy law continues in Pakistan. Religious parties and Islamic extremists plan a campaign in favour of the legislation, which the government wants to modify. In a few days, the High Court in Lahore should set a date for the appeal against the death penalty.

    09/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy
    For the first time, a woman is sentenced to death in Pakistan for this kind of “offence”. The blasphemy law was introduced in 1986 by then Pakistani dictator Zia-ul Haq and since then it has become a tool for discrimination and violence. Part of the Pakistan Penal Code, the law imposes life in prison for defiling the Qur’an and death for insulting Muhammad.



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