Aasia Bibi's family goes into hiding

By AFP
Published: November 24, 2010

Ashiq Maseeh, husband of Aasia Bibi, talks with Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The family of Aasia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, has gone into hiding because of death threats, they said Wednesday.

Politicians and clerics are at loggerheads on whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Aasia Bibi, a mother of five sentenced to hang for defaming the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) under the blasphemy laws.

Minister for minority affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who is himself a Christian, told reporters that Aasia’s family had been forced to flee their home but declined to say where they were staying because of security fears.

Aasia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, who works in a brick factory in the Shekhupura district near Lahore, said he and his children aged nine to 20 had left home because of death threats, but declined to say where they were now living.

“We are frightened. We are receiving threats, especially from clerics. They started demonstrations in the area,” he told reporters in Bhatti’s Islamabad office, accompanied by daughters Eesham, nine, and Sidra, 18.

“Yesterday there was a protest in Shekhupura. They said they will not leave Aasia Bibi alive if she is pardoned.”

Masih said the case was baseless and that the family were “not mad to insult any prophet, religion or the Koran”, telling how his children broke down in tears when they found out about their mother’s plight.

Bhatti said he would submit a petition from the family asking Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to pardon Aasia.

“Today they have given me a mercy petition for the prime minister. I will submit it to the prime minister this week. The case is baseless,” said Bhatti.

The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, has also said he will pass on a petition for clemency to the Pakistani president.

Pope Benedict XVI last week called for Bibi’s release and said Christians in Pakistan were “often victims of violence and discrimination.”

Aasia has filed a separate appeal against the verdict, but no date has been set for a court hearing.

The case began in June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while working in the fields. Women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl.

Bibi was later mobbed by crowds, arrested and prosecuted after Muslim women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Reader Comments (21)

  • T R Khan
    Nov 24, 2010 - 10:06PM

    The great Deobandi and Barelvi clerics have successfully defended Islam and have on the run a poverty stricken illiterate Christian family from the backwaters of Punjab. A few centuries ago the clerics ancestors were confronting the mighty Christian knights successfully and today their descendants are engaging the poor illiterate Masih family. Or is this a strategic regression?
    Our Holy Prophet (saw) has undoubtedly has the loftiest position in the eyes of God in this universe. We have failed to spread this message due to our own shameful shortcomings. Aasia living in an ocean of Muslim could not be conveyed true message successfully. Recommend

  • Talha
    Nov 24, 2010 - 10:25PM

    Shame on the Mullahs.

    They should be charged with inciting violence, spreading terror and acting as accomplice of known criminals.

    The day Mullahs are subdued, we shall be a better off nation.Recommend

  • Peace
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:27PM

    The case against her is baseless, have no proof at all. This case brings a bad name and shame for the Pakistani nation in the whole world. She doesn’t need to be pardoned because she have done nothing wrong, instead of her those women should be punished who falsely accused her for blasphemy. Aasia bibi should be released immediately and be sent to any western country along with her family, as they will never be safe in Pakistan.
    In addition to this Pakistani govt. should apologize her for those 15 months she spent in the jail and for all that suffering she had to bear during all this period. The govt. should compensate her with at least 5 million US Dollars.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:36PM

    The government of Pakistan should send them to UK,US or India, where they can be safe and should bear all costs. They will be granted political asylum.Recommend

  • AIM
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:49PM

    A cheap ticket to the US or other western country: Just get in some blasphemous scandal. We will soon hear about the meeting of the accused’s family with Pope Benedict in Berlin. Recommend

  • Usman Babar
    Nov 25, 2010 - 12:15AM

    The clerics have turned on there cannibalist mode (although one could argue if it was ever off) and are baying for blood. They want a sacrifice and will make sure they get it.Recommend

  • Mac
    Nov 25, 2010 - 12:37AM

    Indeed very sad news wht is wrong with our nation all know wht is truth but still even the government is helpless so is Asia’s family .
    May Lord protect this family from these shaitans who are ready out to kill.Recommend

  • AA
    Nov 25, 2010 - 1:08AM

    The case began in June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while working in the fields. Women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl.

    PatheticRecommend

  • N. Ahmad
    Nov 25, 2010 - 3:13AM

    As a muslim I can not believe that any other muslim (not by name only) will not want any other person

    not to touch the water bucket, because of being non muslim. I firmly believe that the people who are

    blaming Asia Bibii of blasphemy are the worst koind of not just muslims but humans; if one can put them

    in the category of muslims. these people are followers of hindu cast system, and should be told that indian

    govt. is doing all it can to educate people on this subject. It would be the greatest anti islamic thing to take

    any action against Asia Bibi, instead of bringing to taskt the persons who brought this action for bringing

    shame and bad name to islam and muslims of the world. Recommend

  • faraz
    Nov 25, 2010 - 4:01AM

    @AIM

    Ya its real fun. One year in jail without any evidence; children living without their mother; family forced to leave the village; death threats and media coverage. I think the little girl standing on the left in the picture, planned all this. What do the shias of Kurram agency earn for getting themselves persecuted by extremists? Visa for Iran?Recommend

  • Anwar Hasan
    Nov 25, 2010 - 5:14AM

    Shame on the Mullahs and the people who support the Blasphemy law. Recommend

  • G.Khan
    Nov 25, 2010 - 6:16AM

    She is a Pakistani and sending her abroadis by no means a solution. These Mullahs must learn how to live and let live. It is time rule of Law must prevail. Islam is the most kind religion towards minorities and I am surprised what these Mullahs have made it to. Pakistan Govt. must make sure and issue a zero tolernce warning to everyone wo wants to harm them and any moniority under the pretext of this law and specially this mullah party that if a slightest harm is done to the family , a speedy justice will bring their head under the AX instantly. Unless they have this fear, they are not going to leave this insanity. Whoever, disturbs law & order must be State’s enemy and brought to quick justice and punished. Second, People must start using common sense and deny if someone guide them on such path of no logic. What is this nonsense? Forget about minority , majority business. Justice must prevail even if it’s against majority Mullahs. Thats what Islam says. People must come out and send a unified message of support for Asia Bibi. That’s the way to go.Recommend

  • kamran
    Nov 25, 2010 - 10:44AM

    Terrible:
    people who are being caught with bomb jackets are being released because no one dares to testify against them. and innocent people who are harmless to society are being treated worse than animals. Someone should take off “islamic” from name of islamic republic Pakistan. we are insulting it.Recommend

  • abner samuel
    Nov 28, 2010 - 11:19AM

    For Aasia Bibi and her five little innocent angels safety & well being, I volunteer to provide them shelter here in WA. USA with all expenses paid in the name of my living God JESUS. Recommend

  • abner samuel
    Nov 29, 2010 - 7:09AM

    I am serious in paying for your expenses. You will be protected in my house. In the name of JESUS even thou I don’t know you but I love you. Just want you to get out of Pakistan alive.Best wishes for lifeRecommend

  • abner samuel
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:13AM

    i wiill & I promise to keep christian faith alive in Pakistan

    List item
    Recommend

  • Adnan habib
    Jan 4, 2011 - 10:25PM

    i think we muslims shoud’nt act like cruels,who are we to punish any human bieng,basically i dnt even know what remarks were of asia bibi about our holy prophet PBUH but she should b free for her family….if she comitted ths sin she would b punished in the world here after……Recommend

  • abner samuel
    Jan 5, 2011 - 1:40AM

    Aasia Behan! After todays news about the governor of punjab Salman Taseer being gunned down by his own guard, (May his soul be in peace with Jesus). I am left with very little hope for your safety, you surely are a super precious, shining grain of sand in a huge filthy desert. If anything happens to you, you will be in heaven with the everlasting living God.

    May God keep your husband & children (& ofcourse you) SAFE from the wrath of the demons. AMEN!Recommend

  • Anwar Hasan
    Jan 5, 2011 - 9:09PM

    Dear Aasia. It is very unfortunately you were born in my filthy country (so) called Pakistan. Don’t worry God will keep you safe.Recommend

  • gul
    Jan 10, 2011 - 9:30PM

    asalm o alikum my all muslim brother s don,t support those people which say like asia…..Recommend

  • Faisal
    Jan 18, 2011 - 5:30PM

    you can even sit with a christain and jew and share your meal with them in the same plate. They are Ahl-e-Kitaab. There was nothing wrong for a christian touching the water bowl. Just becuase of ignorant village women, she is suffering. The villagers are ignorant. Recommend

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