A Christian woman in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for drinking from a Muslim water cup. However, her current health status is also in jeopardy, which has led to calls for her immediate release.
According to a report posted by Fox News, 50-year-old Aasiya Noreen, a wife and mother of five who is also known as Asia Bibi, was sentenced to die by hanging back in 2010 for apostasy. Her Muslim co-workers have accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed after being told she could not use their water vessel.
"She is an exemplar of a gross miscarriage of injustice rooted in Pakistan's extremely unfair blasphemy laws and of how this law can victimize someone who should not be inside the criminal justice system whatsoever" Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division said.
Laura Jones of Global Dispatch reported that Bibi is also suffering from intestinal bleeding and requires medical treatment. Her family described her health status as "so weak she can hardly walk."
"Asia has difficulty feeding properly, while [having] constant pain in the chest," sources said. "Therefore, it is necessary that Asia Bibi be submitted as soon as possible a full medical checkup, including blood work."
According to Jones, lawyers representing Bibi want her transferred to the prison in Lahore, where she can receive decent medical treatment and be closer to her family.
Fox News reported that the British Pakistani Christian Association will point out her plight during the sixth anniversary of Bibi's arrest by sending out statements and songs calling for her release. The group's chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, urged the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries with close ties to Pakistan to speak up about this injustice.
"There has been a lack of mainstream media coverage, meanwhile her plight continues and she had been waiting for a Supreme Court hearing for eight months," Chowdhry said. "People have to contact leaders of their nations asking them to engage in dialogue with Pakistani government for humanitarian rights alone."
Chowdhry indicated that although reforms to Pakistan's blasphemy laws are desperately needed, he thought it was unlikely given the "hijacked" influence of extremists. In the meantime, his organization has issued an online petition that called for Bibi's release.
"We see what happens when someone tries to challenge the blasphemy laws," Chowdhry said. "It got two key politicians killed...In a country with such animosity against Christians, I don't believe a Supreme Court judge will be brave enough to exonerate her."
According to Fox News, two prominent Pakistani politicians, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, spoke up for Bibi. Both of them were assassinated for speaking out against the country's blasphemy laws.
"The assassinations show how dangerous it is for politicians to challenge the blasphemy law," Kine said. "Militants will go to extreme measures for anyone who speaks for religious freedom or human rights."
Executive director Hillel Neuer of Geneva-based UN Watch told Fox News reform on the blasphemy law "is not something that can happen overnight."
"The [Pakistani] government needs to educate their people on what are universal human rights, what is respecting religious minorities and so on," Neuer said. "Right now, I don't see that happening."