|Children of Asia Bibi holding a picture of their mother|
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward who stated, "This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'"On November 17 Pope Benedict XVI personally appealed for the life of a Pakistani woman that was condemned to death on November 8 for the crime of blasphemy. Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five, is a Christian in predominantly Muslim Pakistan. In his statement the Pope said he felt a “spiritual closeness” to Bibi and her family. Her crime is described in this account from a Pakistani newspaper.
The high priest rose and addressed him, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him, "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see 'the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power' and 'coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?" They said in reply, "He deserves to die!"
Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, "Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?"
– Matthew 26:59-68
Ms Asia’s case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl.The "derogatory remarks" that Mrs. Aisa is accused of having made apparently amount to nothing more than defending her Christian beliefs. This account is from the Pakistan Christian Post.
A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Ms Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him). The cleric went to police, who opened an investigation.
Ms Asia was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295-C of the PPC, which carries the death penalty.
While working in farms with other Muslim women, Asia Bibi was dragged in religious dialogues on June 19, 2009, when Muslim women termed her an “Infidel” and Christianity a “Religion of infidels” and pressed her to embrace Islam.And here is another account which offers some more details. This one is from a group called Release International, the "voice of persecuted Christians". They have an online petition here.
Asia Bibi who is married and have two children, defended Christianity with her little knowledge and told Muslim women that Christianity is only True religion on which Muslim women made a roar and accused her defiling Prophet Mohammad.
The Muslim men working in nearby fields also gathered and attacked Asia Bibi on which she fled to village in her home. The angry Muslims followed her and took her out of home and started beating her. They tortured her children also but meanwhile some one informed police.
The police took Asia Bibi to police Station and filed FIR against her under section 295-B and C of Pakistan Penal Code but showed it a protective custody to other Christians of Ittanwali village.
Section 295 B and C PPC are subject to life in prison or death sentence but it is first judgment in history of Pakistan when a woman is sentenced to death.
Asia, who is from Ittanwali in Punjab province, laboured in the fields for a Muslim landlord. She was arrested after a heated discussion about religion with her fellow farmworkers. Hers was one of only three Christian families in the village.Mrs. Asia has been condemned to death for the same crime which Jesus was condemned to death some 2000 years ago. The crime of blasphemy.
Some of the women workers had been putting her under pressure to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. She responded by sharing with them about her faith in Christ.
Asia spoke of how Jesus Christ had died on the cross for their sins and then asked them what Mohammed had done for them.
On hearing this response the Muslim women became very angry and began to beat her. Some men took Asia by force and locked her in a room. They used the PA system of a local mosque to broadcast plans to punish Asia by blackening her face and parading her through the village on a donkey.
According to Release partners, a mob formed and Asia was violently abused by Muslim villagers and clerics. Her children were also beaten.
However, some Christians informed the police and Asia was taken into protective custody. Pressure to charge her was brought to bear by Muslim leaders. Sentence was passed yesterday.
Asia was also fined £728 – the equivalent of two-and-a half years’ salary for an unskilled worker.
Release partners in Pakistan say the sentence is a crushing blow for Asia, who was hoping to be acquitted and return to her husband and children. They say: ‘Although Asia has great courage, her dreams of release have vanished now. Please pray for her encouragement, strength and protection.’
Pakistan is a partner with the United States in its "war against terror" in Afghanistan. And yet I couldn't find a single statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that even mentioned Asia Bibi.
Amnesty International which was originally founded by a Jewish convert to Christianity, Peter Benenson, has absolutely nothing to say about Asia Bibi. Apparently protecting the freedoms of Christians to practice their faith is not on the AI agenda, while pro-abortion activity has recently become a new campaign. CORRECTION: After some pleading from the British Pakistani Christian Association, AI finally came out with a statement on November 19 asking for the release of Asia (Aasia) Bibi. But don't try to find this statement on the AI website without a direct link.
Human Rights Watch has done a much better job of campaigning to free Asia Bibi. They have launched a high profile campaign to repeal the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan as a direct result of her case. I would however offer a note of caution regarding the stance of HRW. It may be that they are so eagerly pursuing the repeal of the Blasphemy Laws because they see in it a chance to attack organized religion – in this case Islam. This case should not be taken as an opportunity to attack Muslims in general. While Christians have many differences with Muslims, we also share many of the same beliefs rising from our shared heritage rooted in Abraham.
You should also be aware that like Amnesty International, HRW has become a pro-abortion advocacy group. In fact it appears that they actually preceded AI in declaring abortion to be a "human right". HRW appears to have gone pro-abortion in 2005, while AI turned pro-abortion in 2007. It shouldn't even need to be said that by declaring abortion to be a fundamental "human right" these organizations have declared that unborn children are not human.
Consider then the response of Asia Bibi when her coworkers refused to drink the water she had touched because they claimed that she was unclean. She said, “are we not human?”
And for that she was condemned to death.
UPDATE: There are some conflicting news reports that Asia Bibi has been released or pardoned. These seem to be mostly rumors at this point, but hopefully they will soon become reality.