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» 11/09/2010
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.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Pakistan has “crossed a line” in sentencing a Christian woman to death for blasphemy. Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old farm worker mother of two, was convicted of committing blasphemy before her fellow workers during a heated discussion about religion in the village of Ittanwali in June last year.

Some of the women workers had reportedly been pressuring Bibi to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. During one discussion, Bibi responded by speaking of how Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of humanity and asking the Muslim women what Muhammad had done for them.

The Muslim women took offence and began beating Bibi. Afterwards she was locked in a room. According to Release International, a mob reportedly formed and “violently abused” her and her children.

The charity, which supports persecuted Christians, said that blasphemy charges were brought against Bibi because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Release International’s chief executive, Andy Dipper, expressed his shock at Sunday’s ruling.

“Pakistan has crossed a line in passing the death sentence on a woman for blasphemy,” he said.

In addition to the death sentence, Bibi was also fined the equivalent for an unskilled worker of two and a half years’ wages.

Another Christian woman, Martha Bibi (no relation to Asia), is also on trial in Lahore for blasphemy.

According to the National Commission on Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church, between 1986 and August 2009, at least 974 people have been charged for defiling the Qur’an or insulting the Prophet Muhammad. They include 479 Muslims, 340 Ahmadis, 119 Christians, 14 Hindus and 10 from other religions.

The blasphemy law has often been used as a pretext for personal attacks or vendettas as well as extra-judicial murders. Overall, 33 people have died this way at the hands of individuals or crazed mobs.


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See also
11/16/2010 PAKISTAN
Bishop of Islamabad, Asia Bibi case "a disgrace" . A campaign by AsiaNews
by Jibran Khan
12/20/2011 PAKISTAN
Christmas in prison for Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy
by Jibran Khan
12/16/2010 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi “can be killed anytime,” Pakistani priest says
by Jibran Khan
11/15/2010 PAKISTAN
Your signature to save Asia Bibi and Pakistan
by Bernardo Cervellera
10/01/2011 PAKISTAN
Pakistan: death sentence for Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri
by Jibran Khan

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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