Asia Bibi is a forty-five year old Pakistani, a wife, a mother of five, and belongs to the only Christian home in her village. Asia (pronounced ah-see-ah) was a farmhand and worked alongside other women, all Muslims, until 2009. When she was asked to fetch water for everyone to share, a few of her coworkers refused to drink it because, since it came from a Christian, it was unclean. A fight erupted and some of the women pressured her to convert to Islam. She refused, saying:
Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins…. Our Christ is alive.
Several days later a mob came to her house and beat Asia and her family. The police arrived and broke up the mob, but they also arrested Asia and sentenced her with blasphemy, under accusations made by her coworkers that she had insulted Mohammed. In November 2010 she was convicted and sentenced to death. She and her attorneys immediately appealed.
Human rights organizations have loudly protested the sentence, and the government is hesitant (according to reports) to follow through, but they’re facing extreme pressure from radical Islam. Two Pakistani government officials, Salmaan Taseer (a Muslim) and Shahbaz Bhatti (a Christian), called for her release, and were assassinated, in January and March of 2010, respectively. The imam of Asia’s village, wearing a cool, collected expression, made this statement to the BBC:
If the law punishes someone for blasphemy, and that person is pardoned or released, then we will take the law into our own hands.
In Pakistan, death sentences for blasphemy are rare. If Asia’s sentence is carried out, she will be the first woman to be legally executed in Pakistan for blasphemy. But even if she is released, she and her family are in great danger. Her husband Ashiq and her children are on the run and have also received death threats from radical Muslims.
Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization founded by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand in the 60s, is promoting a petition for her release. 230,000 signatures have been gathered since its launch last month. The goal is 1,000,000. SIGN THE PETITION HERE.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.