11/06/2014, 00.00
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Patriarch of Moscow writes to Pakistani president "pardon Asia Bibi"

by Nina Achmatova
In a letter to Hussain, Kirill warns: "There is the risk of jeopardizing the dialogue and relations between Christians and Muslims not only in Pakistan but all over the world."

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has sent a letter to the President of Pakistan Himari Hussain asking him to pardon Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.

The primate of the Russian Orthodox Church writes, "it would be an irreparable loss for her family, her near and dear, cause a great damage to the Muslim-Christian dialogue and could also aggravate tension between Christians and Muslims both in Pakistan and in the entire world".

In the letter, published on the Patriarchate website, Kirill says he is convinced that the political authorities of any modern state " should be aware of their responsibility for the destiny of representatives of religious minorities entrusted to them".

"The Russian Orthodox Church - the letter continues - has shown serious concern over the judgment delivered by the court. Our multimillion flock joins their voice to that of the great number of people throughout the world who advocate for saving the life of this Christian woman".

After years in prison and in solitary confinement "for security reasons", on October 16th the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence imposed at first instance on Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five children. She is accused of blasphemy for insulting the name of Muhammad, but has always claimed innocence and denounced being persecuted for her faith.

In 2011, Islamic extremists killed the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer (Muslim) and the Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti (Catholic), "guilty" of having defended Bibi. Human rights groups and religious minorities have long upheld that Pakistan's infamous blasphemy law is often used to persecute purposes.


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