In some really important news…
Asia Bibi is a Christian mother who has been held in prison in Pakistan since 2010 on charges of blasphemy. On Tuesday, Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times gave his column to Asia Bibi’s husband to plead her case. Her best hope appears to be an international appeal to the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain for a pardon.
I blogged about her case in 2010 and started a petition at Change.org which I have reactivated. I hope you will sign it; it isn’t much but we can raise our voice.
Sign the petition (click the link).
Pakistani continues to fall closer to anarchy it seems as now extremists have killed another moderate leader.
Gunmen killed Pakistan’s minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, Wednesday, in the second attack this year on a high-profile figure who has opposed the country’s blasphemy law.
Witnesses say the attackers fled the scene in their car without hurting Bhatti’s driver, who then rushed him to the nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. City Police Chief Wajid Durrani spoke to reporters outside the hospital.
The police officer said the attackers intercepted Bhatti’s official car shortly after he left his residence for work and shot him several times at close range.
The slain minister belonged to the ruling party of President Asif Ali Zardari and was the only Christian member of the federal cabinet.
Bhatti had been threatened by Muslim extremists for speaking out against Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.
Police are reported to have seized Taliban-linked leaflets from the scene of the attack warning opponents of the Islamic law of blasphemy will meet Bhatti’s fate. In a VOA interview last month, the Pakistani minister had spoken about threats to his life, but vowed not to bow down before the extremist forces.
“This extremism is dangerous for the stability of the country,” Bhatti said. “It is the time that the people of different faiths and the Pakistani nation stand united against the forces of intolerance, against the forces of violence. The blasphemy law is being misused to victimize the innocent people of Pakistan.”
Read the rest of the story at the link above.
Today (Sunday, 1/30) has been set aside in Pakistan by Christians as a day of fasting and prayer for peace. More from this CP report:
The event is a response to plans by Islamic fundamentalists to campaign against any amendment to the Muslim nation’s controversial blasphemy laws, and for the death of convicted Christian mother of five Asia Bibi.
However, the Day of Prayer is intended to serve as a peaceful response to the intensifying, and often violent rallies led by radical Islamic groups in defense of the laws.
“We Christians do not wish to react nor respond to the provocations, instead to pray and fast, placing the difficulties that the country is experiencing in God’s hands,” Father John Shakir Nadeem, secretary for social communications for the Episcopal Conference, told Fides News Agency.
All churches in Pakistan will join in prayer for the nation to find “peace and harmony” and for Bibi’s freedom.
As you think about it today, please let’s join them.
SperoNews is reporting this possibility:
Lahore – Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, may be moved to Multan Prison, an all-women facility, due to security concerns. The Christian community expressed their concern to the authorities that the 45-year-old mother of five may not be safe in Sheikhupura Prison (Punjab) because of constant death threats from extremists around the country.
So says CNN.
This is very disappointing news. The President and other leaders were leaning toward a pardon back in November of 2010. More recently, in light of the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, the government has sought to placate Pakistani Islamic hard right.
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistan’s prime minister pledged on Monday the government will not change the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s announcement comes amid growing pressure from hard-line religious groups and nearly two weeks after the assassination of a leading liberal politician who led a public campaign to change the laws.
“We are not going to amend them,” Gilani told a gathering at a scheduled appearance in central Pakistan on Monday. “Anyone who says there will be changes is lying.”
I have no proof, but reading between lines, I wonder if the government agreed to leave the blasphemy laws in place in exchange for a cessation of violence from the far right Isalamic groups.
I am quite concerned now that the next placation will be Asia Bibi. I pray that she can still be pardoned and leave the country with her family.