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  • » 11/17/2010, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    People around the world signing petition to save Asia Bibi



    In two days, more than 1,300 people sign a petition launched by AsiaNews to save the life of the Pakistani woman sentenced to death on false blasphemy charges. Hundreds of messages have come in from Spain and Latin America, but also Vietnam, China and Malaysia. Hundreds of women protested yesterday for Asia Bibi against the blasphemy law.

    Lahore (AsiaNews) – “Asia Bibi is innocent. Saving her is not a political act, but a moral obligation towards all persecuted Christians,” wrote one reader. “The blasphemy law destroys coexistence and Pakistan’s development,” said another. They are but two of a long list of people who have signed the petition launched by AsiaNews on 15 November on behalf of Asia Bibi (pictured during her trial), the Christian woman sentenced to death in Punjab after she was falsely accused of blasphemy.

    So far, some 1,500 people have signed the appeal, which was picked up in Malaysia by the local Catholic weekly newspaper, the Herald. Individuals and news agencies elsewhere have also picked up the story and sent it around the world. Hundreds of messages are coming in from Spain and Latin America, but also Vietnam and China.

    Despite the dangers, various organisations like Justice and Peace have organised demonstrations in Pakistan. Various initiatives have also been undertaken to free the woman. Yesterday in Nankana (Punjab), hundreds of women, Christian and Muslim, demonstrated in front of government offices, demanding her immediate release.

    “The women of Pakistan are taking action: the case of Asia Bibi nags at our conscience. There is an urgent need to repeal the blasphemy law,” said Saman Wazdani, a Muslim and a human rights activist.

    For her, Pakistan’s entire legal system needs retooling. “Trial courts are left to themselves,” she explained. “They have old structures that are not transparent and they often interpret the law incorrectly. We urgently need a comprehensive judicial reform”.

    In the meantime, the Conference of the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP), which represents about a third of all religious parties, said it was against repealing the blasphemy law.

    For the ulema, the law cannot be touched. Otherwise, they promise to take to the streets to demonstrate, violently if need be, should it be changed or corrected.

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    See also

    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.

    22/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Asia Bibi waiting for mercy from Pakistan President
    The family of the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy is confident that a solution will be found very soon. Punjab governor is optimistic about a positive outcome to the affair. People continue to sign the AsiaNews online petition at salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it.

    23/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Asia Bibi is innocent, minorities minister says in report to President Zardari
    The report is set to be given today to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who could grant a pardon in the near future. Religious parties threaten street protests around the country if the woman is freed.

    30/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Lahore High Court to issue date for Asia Bibi’s appeal
    President Zardari’s legal expert says the woman was convicted without been able to present her side of the story. “Some people are trying to politicise the matter and create a gap between the judiciary and the government,” a presidential spokesman says. The AsiaNews online petition on behalf of Asia Bibi and against the blasphemy law continues.

    25/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    No news about Asia Bibi’s fate as her release might take longer
    Her petition for clemency has not yet been filed. Some believe she should appeal first to the Lahore High Court, then the Supreme Court. Cardinal Tauran arrives in Pakistan today.



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