New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
World >

Charity questions Asia Bibi blasphemy case adjournment

Hattie Williams

by Hattie Williams

Posted: 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:08

BCPA

Click to enlarge

Worldwide concern: Christians of Pakistani origin and supporters demonstrate in Sydney on 8 October, prior to Asia Bibi's latest trial adjournment. During the protests, Wilson Chowdry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, led a delegation to the Pakistan Consulate in Sydney, where a petition calling for Asia Bibi to be freed was submitted. The electronic petition can still be signed, here: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia

Credit: BCPA

Worldwide concern: Christians of Pakistani origin and supporters demonstrate in Sydney on 8 October, prior to Asia Bibi's latest trial adjournment. During the protests, Wilson Chowdry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, led a delegation to the Pakistan Consulate in Sydney, where a petition calling for Asia Bibi to be freed was submitted. The electronic petition can still be signed, here: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia

THE charity Release International has questioned the decision of the Supreme Court in Pakistan to adjourn the final appeal of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2009, accused of blasphemy.

Mrs Bibi, a farm labourer, was the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad — which she denies — after an argument with her Muslim co-workers (News, 19 November 2010). The labourers reportedly refused to drink the water she had brought for them because they considered her, as a Christian, to be unclean.

The Supreme Court was due to hear her final appeal this month (News, 30 September). But one of the judges stepped down last week, citing a possible conflict of interest. A new date for the hearing has not yet been set.

Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman reportedly told the court that he had been involved in the case of Salmaan Taseer, a liberal governor of Punjab province, who was murdered by his bodyguard in Islamabad in 2011 after publicly supporting Mrs Bibi (Comment, Press, 14 January 2011).

“It seems strange to pull out on the day of the appeal,” the chief executive of Release International, Paul Robinson, said. “Surely any potential conflict of interest would have been known in advance?” The charity, which is pressing for Mrs Bibi’s acquittal, has condemned Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which, it says, have resulted in the death of 60 people since 1990.

Riots broke out across the capital of Islamabad in response to the adjournment, and about 3000 security personnel were called in to protect the court last week. “What is clear is that it will take immense courage to withstand intimidation and release Asia Bibi,” Mr Robinson said. “The blasphemy laws are being used to fuel the flames of intolerance. That’s why they must be repealed.”

Zohra Yusuf, who chairs the independent Human Rights Commission in Pakistan, told the news agency AFP that the delay was “regrettable”, and suggested that the judges had realised that they “may be putting their own lives on the line” if they acquitted Mrs Bibi.

Assassination threats have been made against Mrs Bibi, and her family have been forced into hiding.

Job of the week

Assistant Chaplain & UK Director

London and Home Counties

Zacharias Trust Assistant Chaplain & UK Director Salary: £45,000-£47,500 plus benefits (experience dependent) Oxford (37.5 hours per week) We have an exciting opportunity for an Assist...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Making money work for others

Making money work for others

Continuing our Lent series on aspects of money, Matthew Bishop explores the links between philanthropy and faith  Subscribe to read more

Top comment

Doing without bacon rolls and paintball

To base ‘men’s ministry’ on tired stereotypes is not necessary, and may be unhelpful, argues Anne Bennett  Subscribe to read more

Thu 23 Mar 17 @ 21:18
Bishops in Parliament respond to Westminster attack https://t.co/qtghNuXOHM

Thu 23 Mar 17 @ 15:52
Cathedrals vie for top place in poll https://t.co/ODf0gm2oUL