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Asia Bibi Blasphemy Case: Rights Groups Urge 24/7 Prayer As Christian Mother Faces Last Chance to Overturn Death Sentence

( [email protected] ) Oct 06, 2016 01:10 PM EDT
A Christian charity is urging believers worldwide to unite in prayer for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother who has suffered in prison since she was arrested in 2010, as she faces her final chance to overturn the decision which sentenced her to death under the country's blasphemy laws.
Christians protest the incarceration of Asia Bibi, a mother of five who was arrested for allegedly blaspheming the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Reuters

A Christian charity is urging believers worldwide to unite in prayer for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother who has suffered in prison since she was arrested in 2010, as she faces the final chance to overturn the decision which sentenced her to death under the country's blasphemy laws.

Next week, Bibi will have her final appeal heard by the Supreme Court, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), which notes that the hearing is the final legal avenue available to avoid execution.

Advocate Said-ul-Malook, Bibi's lawyer, told the persecution charity, "I will appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and argue her case while she will remain in prison...I hope the result will be an acquittal."

As the deadline looms, religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is urging supporters to join in a 24-hour prayer movement on October 12 to pray for her release: "She needs our prayers now more than ever," CSW said.

The organization has asked believers to pray that Bibi would not only be acquitted, but that she would have strength and restoration during and after the hearing. It is also asking for prayers for Bibi's lawyer; for the wider Christian community who may face a backlash whatever the outcome of the appeal; for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pakistan to maintain calm in the country; for justice for others accused of blasphemy; and that the government would urgently amend the blasphemy laws.

Critics have argued that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are often misused to "settle personal scores" with minority groups such as Christians and Ahmadis.

"Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy, but some people accused of the offense in the past have been lynched by crowds," BBC News wrote. "Lawyers, judges and those seeking to reform the blasphemy laws have also been threatened, attacked or even killed."

As earlier reported, Bibi was first arrested in 2009 after getting into an argument with two Muslim field workers when the women refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she was not Muslim. In turn, Bibi was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammad, a serious charge which carries the death penalty.

Later the women told a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against Islam by saying: "My Christ died for me. What did Muhammad do for you?"

She was sentenced to death in 2010 by a local court in Punjab, but her death sentence was suspended five years later. If Bibi's final appeal is overruled, her only chance of avoiding execution would be through a presidential pardon.

BBC News reported that even if Bibi is released, she still faces an uncertain future because of her Christian faith. Bibi's family still lives in hiding due to the many death threats they have received. In addition, thousands of protesters have vowed to kill her if she is released from prison, including an imam from her own village.

While she faces an uncertain future, Asia Bibi was recently quoted by her family as saying: "I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness. . . . Jesus made this happy day for me and has accepted my prayers. . . . But, although I have been in prison for seven years, I do not hate those who did me wrong. . . . I pray that Jesus Christ will grant peace to the whole world."

Tags : Asia Bibi, blasphemy, Pakistan, death sentence, Pakistan blasphemy law, Muslim, Islam, Christianity