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  • » 11/09/2010, 00.00

    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

    16/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    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.

    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.

    15/11/2010 PAKISTAN
    Your signature to save Asia Bibi and Pakistan
    An online petition (to be sent to AsiaNews, or directly to the President of Pakistan) for the revocation of the death sentence for a Christian woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy. But we are also asking for the cancellation or overhaul of the blasphemy law, which is destroying harmony and development in Pakistan.

    01/10/2011 PAKISTAN
    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."



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