NEW DELHI — The All India Christian Council has condemned the death sentence passed last week by a Paksitani court on a young Christian woman, Asia Bibi, for alleged blasphemy. The Council asked the Indian government to raise the mater with the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Pakistani Government and with other international organizations to save the life of the woman.
Pakistan’s so called 295C blasphemy laws have been condemned globally since they were formulated in the last century. They have been misused in particular to persecute Pakistan’s miniscule Christian community, which is subject to acute violence. Christian women in particular have been subject to abduction, forcible conversion and trafficking.
Pakistan’s persecution of its religious minorities is well known.
Large numbers of Hindus and Sikhs have in the past fled Pakistan and sought refuge in India. Faislabad Bishop John Joseph had some years ago sacrificed his life by shooting himself to draw international attention to the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan.
The death sentence on Asia, a 30 year old, was passed on 7th November 2010. The Court of Sessions accepted the prosecution version that she had passed derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed, Peace be upon him.
According to information with the All India Christian Council – which has in the past protested victimization of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan under these laws — 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 workers. Hers is one of only three Christian families in the village.
Some of the women workers had been putting her under pressure to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. On June 19, 2009, the women pressed Asia about Islam. She responded by sharing with them about her faith in Christ.
The women beat her up. Some men took Asia by force and locked her in a room.
According to information, a mob formed and Asia was violently abused by Muslim villagers and clerics. Her children were also beaten. Later, the police took her into protective custody, and she was prosecuted under the blasphemy laws.