On July 22nd, Asia Bibi appeared before a three judge panel of the Pakistan Supreme Court who decided to temporarily suspend her death sentence for blasphemy. Based on dubious evidence and witnesses, a sessions court had found Bibi guilty of violating Pakistan Penal Code 295(c) for blasphemy and conferred the first death sentence on a woman for this crime.
Bibi’s lawyer, Mr. Saif Ul Malook, presented arguments as to why the Supreme Court should hear her appeal. The Honorable Bench agreed with his arguments and concluded that the Lahore High Court had dismissed her appeal on a technicality and that due to the conviction and sentence her appeal should be examined for administration of justice.
Asia Bibi was charged with blasphemy for stating, “My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?” In 2009 she was working as a farm laborer and had engaged in a conversation with two of her Muslim co-workers. The conversation escalated and that is when Bibi questioned their prophet. She was then accused of blasphemy.
Five days after the argument, Bibi was beaten up and humiliated by her villagers and Muslims from surrounding villages. The police arrested her and she was charged under the Pakistan Penal Code 295(c).
The Pakistani government continues to justify–even at the United Nations–its Blasphemy law as a criminal offense punishable by death, despite the overwhelming international consensus opposed to blasphemy laws. This past June in the United States House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Joe Pitts and Democratic Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee introduced H .Res. 290 which calls for the global repeal of blasphemy laws. The resolution “recognizes that blasphemy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of truth or religious rightness as they empower officials to enforce particular religious views against individuals, minorities” and “supports efforts at the United Nations to combat intolerance, discrimination, or violence against persons based on religion or belief without restricting expression”.
Pakistan has had a long history of Christians being accused of blasphemy. Last November, a Christian couple was falsely accused of burning verses from the Quran. Consequently, the couple was brutally attacked by a Muslim mob and burned alive.
Jubilee administers the Aid to Victims’ Families Fund to assist the families of Pakistanis who have been murdered, incapacitated or driven into hiding because of unjust accusations of blasphemy. We cooperate in this effort with our partners in Lahore, Pakistan, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). Please prayerfully consider donating to help protect Christians in Pakistan.