THE charity Release International has called on the Pakistani government to repeal its laws and release a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2009, accused of blasphemy (News, 19 November 2010).
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. The labourers reportedly refused to drink the water she had brought for them because, as a Christian, they considered her to be unclean.
The Supreme Court in Pakistan is due to hear her final appeal in October.
Release International, which is pressing for her acquittal, has launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, to repeal the laws, which, it says, “are often invoked to take revenge, incite violent attacks, and eliminate rivals”.
Its chief executive, Paul Robinson, said: “We call on the government of Pakistan to abolish the blasphemy laws, and seek to create a society where every Pakistani citizen is free to exercise their faith and live in peace with their neighbours.” It must review every blasphemy case and repeal these notorious laws which target Christians and other minorities and are often invoked to whip up violent persecution.”
To sign the petition online, visit www.releaseinternational.org.