Thursday the 25th of February

...to the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Call to free Pakistani blasphemy law victim, Asia Bibi

Dozens of protesters converged on the Pakistani Consulate in Glasgow last weekend calling for the freedom of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani blasphemy law victim.

Protesters, who believe the Christian mother of five who has been jailed in Multan for over seven years should be set free, gathered from all over Glasgow on Saturday 11th February.

An imam in Pakistan accused Asia Bibi of blasphemy in 2009 for drinking water from a well that was exclusive for Muslims. He determined that her Christianity made her ritually impure therefore contaminating the water. He also accused her for blasphemy for saying “Christ died for me, what did Muhammed do for you?”.

A response she allegedly uttered whilst being beaten and ridiculed for her faith after she had offered water from the well to Muslim co-workers.

Though there may only be 500 Pakistani Christians in Glasgow, over 50 turned out despite the cold. The event illustrated how Pakistani Christians in Britain really do care for the plight of Asia Bibi and others persecuted in Pakistan.

During a meeting with the First Minister at the Pakistani High Commission in London, Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), was informed that a date for Asia Bibi’s Supreme court appeal trial would be fixed by the end of March.

An earlier appeal trial was postponed after a judge on the day of trial refused to preside over the case due to an alleged conflict of interest. He retired from his post a month later in a debacle that is believed to have been triggered due to threats to his life from extremists if he or any other judge set Asia Bibi free.

Pastor Fredrick Dacosta, who presides over a 70-strong congregation of Pakistani Christians in Glasgow, sent a live feed of the demonstration through Facebook. The event was also filmed by C44 News in Pakistan who now have a UK office. “Asia Bibi is innocent,” said Pastor Fredrick D’Costa.

“She has neither committed a blasphemy or any over crime that deserves the punishment she has received.

“The real criminals always get away – this is a deplorable reality in Pakistan.”

Mr Chowdhry said: “Asia Bibi is close to insanity as she has been deprived of human contact and her dignity. Yet throughout this turmoil this brave, frightened woman … has sought the help of her God. At the times of her darkest torment she has found solace in prayer and has never contemplated leaving her faith even though accepting Islam under duress could set her free.”

A BPCA petition for Asia Bibi already has 18,304 names. Readers can sign it at: www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia

BPCA are also asking Britain and America, who have ploughed billions of pounds of foreign aid into Pakistan, to reconsider these funds unless Pakistan improves its poor human rights record.

To sign BPCA’s petition to either use UK Foreign Aid to Pakistan to lever change in Pakistan or terminate all funding go to: www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/aidtoaffectchange

Picture: Protesters show support for Asia Bibi. (British Pakistani Christian Association).