» 01/26/2011, 00.00
Pakistani Christians: day of fasting and prayer for the release of Asia Bibi
Sponsored by the Bishop of Islamabad, the event is scheduled for January 30. The same day, Islamic fundamentalists have launched a "national protest" against changes to the blasphemy law. Bishop Anthony: We want to promote "peace and harmony" and the release of the Christian woman.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - On January 30 Pakistani Christians will celebrate a "day of fasting and prayer" for peace in the country and the salvation of Asia Bibi, the 45 year old mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy. It is in response to the march of the Islamists, who will also hold a "national protest" on the same day against any changes to the "black law" and for the execution of the Christian woman. In recent days, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in different cities of Pakistan, stressing that they are prepared to "sacrifice their life” to defend the honour of the Prophet Muhammad.
Bishop Anthony Rufin of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, has launched an appeal through AsiaNews inviting Christians from all over the country to observe a day of fasting and prayer January 30 next. The prelate clarifies that the initiative aims to promote "peace and harmony," and raise awareness for the "release of Asia Bibi" held in prison pending appeal and threatened with death by Islamic fundamentalists. "It's a critical time - said the bishop - for Christians in Pakistan. So far, two things have dominated the thinking of our society: the megalomania (considering ourselves to be the best) and paranoia (that the world is conspiring against us). "Bishop Anthony adds that he met Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia, and their children. The youngest, Esha, confessed to the bishop in a low voice: "Now it is clear that they have taken away our rights to life and livelihood."
The Masihi Foundation, a human rights organization based in Lahore pleading the cause of Asia Bibi, wants the appeal process to take place in prison - in Sheikhpura, where she currently is being held, or Multan - for "security reasons" . The activists are willing to private security, in the case of transfer to the women's prison in Multan.
If Christians call to fasting and prayer, fundamentalists are dragging the crowds in the streets to support the "black law". On January 23 demonstrations were held in all major cities including Lahore, Karachi, Bahwalpur, Multan and Rawalpindi. In Lahore, about 1,500 people chanted slogans and threats, claiming to be ready to "sacrifice their life<2 to defend the honour of the Prophet Muhammad.
The extremist wing confirms the national demonstration scheduled for January 30, the day also will start the march to the capital Islamabad. The radicals want to get assurances from the government that the blasphemy law will not be repealed and Asia Bibi is executed. The protest will include the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), which confirmed the presence of party members.
Pakistan: death sentence for Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Pakistan today issued the sentence defining the murder "a heinous and unjustifiable crime ". Qadri’s lawyers argue the "inevitability" of the murder, caused by Taseer’s "reprehensible statements" on blasphemy law. Protests outside the prison. Bishop of Islamabad: "a brave judgement, now we must work together for a tolerant society."
No immediate pardon for Asia Bibi. Appeal must go before the High Court
President Zardari could decide to grant the pardon if the High Court appeal takes too long. Islamic groups opposed to pardon demand the case follows the normal course of justice.
Lahore: death threats for Asia Bibi's lawyer and human rights activists
Her lawyer has completed the request for appeal, but no specific details are provided in order to preserve their safety. Islamic extremist groups and leaders ready to target those fighting for her release. From Masihi Foundation thanks for the words of Pope Benedict XVI, a source of encouragement.
Shahbaz Batthi killed by a "mafia" of fundamentalists holding the government hostage
The minister for minorities, Salman Taseer and other victims of the "organized movement" fighting for power. The violence has raised such fear that that any discussion about the law on blasphemy has been dropped. But Christians must cultivate the hope and with the help of the universal Church, build a better future.
Bishop of Islamabad, Asia Bibi case "a disgrace" . A campaign by AsiaNews
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.
CHINA – VATICAN
Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church
After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.
INDIA – PHILIPPINES
Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist
Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."
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