The Supreme Court in Pakistan is scheduled this fall to hear the case against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five on death row since 2010 for violating the Muslim nation’s notorious blasphemy law.
In a report from International Christian Concern, legal advocate Said-ul-Malook said the hearing – likely the last one in the case – will be in October before the nation’s Supreme Court.
He told ICC, “I hope the result will be an acquittal.”
The case arose from a June 2009 incident in which, according to Bibi, she was scolded by farm co-workers for drinking from a metal cup that had been used by Muslims. The co-workers considered her unclean because she was a Christian and, according to Bibi, said derogatory things about her faith.
She said she responded with: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?”
“Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians” provides documented accounts of attacks on Christians worldwide, and it tells of the perseverance and courage of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ
ICC regional manager William Stark said Bibi was a prime example of Christians threatened “by radicals wielding Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.”
The laws, he said are “widely abused” and often used to settle “personal scores.”
“Threats from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan have transformed courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case,” Stark explained in the report.
“It is ICC’s hope that the Supreme Court will resist these pressures and decide Bibi’s case on the merits.”
WND reported just weeks ago that a Pakistani tribunal recommended a review of the laws.
The Pakistan Supreme Court said “criticizing the country’s notoriously harsh blasphemy laws is not blasphemy,” according to the Barnabas Fund, an organization that serves persecuted Christians worldwide.
The Barnabas Fund said the tribunal had been set up to investigate the riots in Gojra in August 2009 that killed eight Christians.
The tribunal has recommended a review of the country’s blasphemy laws.
“The 325-page report, produced by a former Lahore High Court judge, highlights five provisions in the law relating to Islam which should be revisited both to prevent misuse and to ensure that it aligns with Article 25 of Pakistan’s constitution, which stipulates the equality of all citizens,” the Barnabas Fund said.
But the report noted that before going to parliament for approval, various schools of Islamic thought and the Council of Islamic Ideology will be consulted on the changes.
The report said that between July 28 and Aug. 1, 2009, a mob of more than 800 Muslims raided a Christian settlement in the town of Gojra in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Approximately 60 houses were burned down and eight Christians were killed, seven of whom were from one family.
Barnabas Fund said the attack was regarded as retribution for an alleged charge of blasphemy following gossip that a Quran had been burned during a wedding ceremony.
There still has been no justice for the Christian victims, the report said.
There are about a dozen people on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Two years ago WND reported on the comment by the chief of a Christian organization in Pakistan that the nation’s blasphemy laws, essentially, are a license to kill Christians.
The comments came from the president of the Pakistan Christian Congress, Nazir Bhatti, in a report by the Gatestone Institute’s Mohshin Habib, who was looking at the fallout from the recent torture deaths of two Christians accused – but never convicted – of burning a page from the Quran.
That case, the deaths of Shama Bibi, 24, and her husband, Shahzad Masih, generated a backlash the blasphemy laws, which protect Islam but not other faiths.
A spokesman for the family of the two victims – their unborn child also was killed – said they were accused of blasphemy and hid. But mobs of Muslims found them and tore apart the room where they had taken refuge.
“The mob beat them and broke their legs so they would not be able to flee,” the Gatestone report said. “They were then held over an open kiln until their clothes caught fire.”
Then they were thrown inside a furnace, according to Javed Maseeh, a spokesman for the family.
The report said someone had accused them of burning a page of the Quran.
“Where is the international outcry about this Christian woman’s suffering? About how she continues to suffer to this day because of this segregationist, racist bigotry. … Where is Obama, mentioning her name, inviting her to the White House? Why is Ahmed Mohamed on the front cover of every magazine?” asked Jamie Glazov on his Web TV show “The Glazov Gang.”
His comments stemmed from an invitation to the White House for the Muslim who came to be known as “clock boy” who was suspended from school for bringing to class a device that looked like a suitcase bomb.
“When will Asia Bibi be on the front cover of magazines?” he continued. “When will the honest truth about her be told?”
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Glazov said Bibi is “awaiting execution for loving Jesus.”
“This is a Christian that was working with Muslim women picking berries,” Glazov explained. “She was thirsty. By a well [there was] a little metal cup.”
According to Voice of the Martyrs: “On June 19, 2009 there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive. ‘Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins. … Our Christ is alive,’ she told them. Upon hearing this response, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.”
Police filed blasphemy charges, explaining they were forced by pressure from Muslims.
After a lengthy trial, on Nov. 8, 2010, Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge. The judge also fined her $1,190 and told her she had seven days to appeal the decision.