In a sane society, Asia Bibi’s story would be front-page news, with Presidents, Prime Ministers and Popes appealing for her release, the United Nations condemning Pakistan, and all foreign aid halted until she was released and blasphemy laws repealed. Instead, the world “human rights community” looks the other way and devotes its energies to hunting for examples of “Islamophobia.”
“Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan begs supporters ‘please don’t abandon me’ as she makes final appeal against her sentence,” Daily Mail, November 25, 2014:
A Christian woman on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy has filed a last-ditch legal challenge to her conviction for insulting the Prophet Mohammed four years ago.
A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi last month, dashing hopes the conviction might be overturned or commuted to a jail term.
It comes after she made an impassioned plea to supporters in an open letter.
‘You are my only hope of staying alive in this dungeon, so please don’t abandon me,’ she said. ‘I did not commit blasphemy.’
Bibi, a 50-year-old mother-of-five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was convicted of insulting Mohammed during a row with Muslim co-workers over a bowl of water.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in majority Muslim Pakistan country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.
Bibi’s defence attorney Saiful Malook told AFP yesterday he had filed an appeal on her behalf to the Supreme Court.
He said that in the petition his client has asked the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case including allegedly manipulated evidence and a delay between the time of the incident and its investigation by police.
Mr Malook added that the blasphemy allegation was concocted by Bibi’s enemies to target her and had no basis in fact.
‘We expect an early hearing of the appeal and hope that the proceedings will be over in one year,’ he added.
The legal challenge is in addition to a personal plea from Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih to Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain asking for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.
‘We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President (Mamnoon) Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water,’ he wrote in the New York Times.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said the couple are welcomed in the city, and Masih quoted his wife as saying she sent her ‘deepest thanks to you Madame Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world’.
Bibi’s message from jail read: ‘My prison cell has no windows and day and night are the same to me, but if I am still holding on today it is thanks to everyone who is trying to help me. When my husbnd [sic] showed me the photographs of people I have never met drinking a glass of water for me, my heart overflowed.
‘Ashiq told me that the city of Paris is offering to welcome our family. I send my deepest thanks to you Madam Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world.
‘You are my only hope of staying alive in this dungeon, so please don’t abandon me. I did not commit blasphemy.’
Mr Masih, 50, lives in hiding with two of his five children and has to keep his identity secret as he scrapes together a living as a daily labourer.
He visits his wife once a month, making a five and a half hour journey to her jail in Multan in southern Punjab.
The allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was labouring in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with.
She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations….