Sunday, December 26, 2010
ASIA BIBI "CAN BE KILLED ANYTIME"
Asia Bibi 'can be killed anytime,' says Pakistani priest
The fight against the blasphemy law continues in Pakistan
By Dan Wooding
Spero News is reporting that the "fight over blasphemy continues unabated in Pakistan" as appeals and initiatives on behalf of Asia Bibi, a jailed Christian woman sentenced to death, continue around the world.
This week, just before Christmas, the High Court in Lahore is expected to set the date for her appeal. However, the most extremist Islamic parties and organizations have launched a campaign in favor of Pakistan's blasphemy legislation, announcing street actions and strikes over the coming weeks.
"Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islma Fazl party, launched the campaign at a press conference," said the Spero News story based on one released by Asia News. "He said that the campaign would unfold in three stages: demonstrations on December 24 after Friday prayers, a general strike on December 31, and a great rally on January 9, 2011 in Karachi."
Maulana Fazl said that religious parties are "united on the issue." He insisted that he would oppose any attempt by the government to change the blasphemy law.
Last week, President Asif Ali Zardari stated that he wanted to modify the controversial law which has been condemned around the world.
At a seminar titled "Protection of the blasphemy law and its importance," Justice Mian Nazeer Akhtar said that Punjab Governor, Salmaan Taseer, was also a blasphemer for protecting those who indulged in blasphemy.
"Section 295C was included in the Criminal Procedure of Pakistan in 1986, and a handful of people cannot be allowed to damage it," he explained.
At the same time, he accused the Federal government of allowing "dubious debates" on the blasphemy topic on various Pakistani television channels.
During Asia Bibi's trial, her attorney called the charges a "fanciful drama" by a Muslim majority "arrayed against a Christian minority."
The case began after Asia Bibi offered her fellow farm workers water which they refused because, as a Christian, she had made it "impure."
Both sides firmly defended their faiths, but Asia Bibi was charged with blasphemy.
The Rev Samson Dilawar, a parish priest who was wounded by gunmen in 1997 and saw his Catholic church burned to the ground in 2005, has claimed that he has been threatened by anonymous callers for assisting Asia Bibi.
He said that Bibi is "not safe in prison."
Dilawar said that the murder last year of a young Christian man accused of blasphemy in nearby Sialkot was a cautionary tale.
"That boy was killed in the jail. She can also be murdered in the jail as well. She can be killed anytime. So anything can happen," the Rev Dilawar said.
Meanwhile, millions of Christians around the world are praying for Asia Bibi in a case that, once again, appears to illustrate the unfairness of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.