11/22/2010, 00.00
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Asia Bibi waiting for mercy from Pakistan President

by Jibran Khan
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.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on Saturday said that he hoped that President Asif Ali Zardari would approve and sign the plea by Asia Bibi, a Christian woman detained and sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy.

He made the comment to journalists after visiting Asia Bibi in Shaikhupura District Prison. He explained that Asia Bibi’s plea for mercy had already been sent to the President and that he hoped to see the latter approve her request and sign it soon.

“It has nothing to do with religion; it’s about humanity,” the governor of Punjab insisted. Poor people, he noted, are usually helpless; when they are dragged into such cases, they become the object of ridicule. He would not however comment on the court’s verdict.

"I have small children," pleaded Asia Bibi, wearing a veil covering all but her eyes. "For God's sake, please set me free."

“I want my mother to be released in time for Christmas, so we can celebrate together,” Bibi's 18-year-old daughter, Sidra, told AsiaNews.

Asia Bibi’s entire family is waiting for President Zardari’s decision. Ms Bibi has been in prison for a year and half. During that time, she was convicted for blasphemy.

"I just want to see my mother," said ten-year-old Esha, between sobs.

Esha is a special child and is very attached to her mother, who used to take care of her. She is one of Asia’s five children. The others are Naseem, the eldest who is married and lives away from the family home, Imran (22), Sidra (18) and Esham (9).

“I saw my mother Tuesday after a long time,” Esha said. However, she is afraid that “they are going to let her die in prison.”

In the meantime, the campaign by AsiaNews to get Asia Bibi released continues. So far, 4,000 people have signed up. More support is pouring in. Messages are not coming from only Italy. Many are from Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), Vietnam, Spain, United States as well as Japan, not to mention Latin America.

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