Minister backs new probe in Aasia's case

Published: November 18, 2010
Aasya Bibi is seen in an undated photo handed out by family members. PHOTO: REUTERS

Aasya Bibi is seen in an undated photo handed out by family members. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti on Thursday called for a thorough re-investigation and fair appeal for Aasia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, after the pope called for her release.

On November 8, Aasia Bibi was sentenced to hang in after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in 2009.

Bhatti told AFP that Aasia had filed an appeal at the Lahore High Court (LHC).

“We have requested the Punjab government that the trial should be fair in the high court. She must also be provided security in jail,” he said.

Aasia’s supporters say the case is baseless and that her first trial “was not heard properly,” Bhatti said.

“We have, therefore, asked the Punjab government that the case be reinvestigated properly.”

Governor Punjab Salman Taseer also expressed his support for a fair trial for Aasia Bibi on Thursday when he tweeted:

Aasia bibi’s appeal has been filed in the High Court. I am personally supervising the case.inshallah I will ensure she is not victimised

Pope Benedict XVI this week called for her release and said Christians in Pakistan were “often victims of violence and discrimination.”

“I feel close to Aasia Bibi and her family and I ask that she be released as soon as possible,” he said on Wednesday.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said he was told during a visit to Islamabad last week that Pakistan was committed to changing the blasphemy law and promised to join the fight to save Aasia.

Aasia’s husband Ashiq Masih confirmed to AFP that the appeal had been filed, but said the family had no contact from the government.

In June 2009, his wife was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Aasia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).

She was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries the death penalty.

Rights activists and minority pressure groups said it was the first time that a woman had been sentenced to hang in Pakistan for blasphemy, although a Muslim couple were jailed for life last year.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Nov 18, 2010 - 5:31PM

    Pope Benedict XVI has called for the release of a Christian Women in Pakistan and has said that Christians were “often victims of violence and discrimination.”

    Pope Benedict XVI never issued any press release about Muslims who have become and are being continuous “victims of violence and discrimination” in the United States and in other Western Countries.

    Pope also never issued any statement when US soldiers threw the Muslims Holy Book Quran in a toilet in Iraq during US War in Iraq. Recommend

  • Cronous
    Nov 18, 2010 - 7:53PM

    “Pope Benedict XVI never issued any press release about Muslims who have become and are being continuous “victims of violence and discrimination” in the United States and in other Western Countries.”

    Not really even comparable. Western countries don’t condemn Muslims to death for blasphemy or to death for apostasy for converting to Islam. And frankly there have been no wide scale communal attacks (e.g. Gojra) on Muslims in the West. Violence and discrimination in the West pales in comparison to what goes in places like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc..

    “Pope also never issued any statement when US soldiers threw the Muslims Holy Book Quran in a toilet in Iraq during US War in Iraq.”

    How is this physical violence against Muslims?Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 18, 2010 - 8:18PM

    Our government always acts when some arm twisting is done by either foreign media or some high level personality like the Holy See and Italian Prime Minister. @Syed A. Mateen, my friend,. Pope always spoke against all discriminatory laws and discrimination. Christian hierarchy always spoke for Human Rights and never ever approved or kept silence on victimizing minorities in any way and in any country. For your information Human Rights Charter was tabled in UN by the Pope after World War II. Christians were the first to get draconian laws removed so that all Human Race lives in Peace. Now it is up to the concerned countries why it is not being followed in letter and spirit.Recommend

  • Musa
    Nov 18, 2010 - 8:25PM

    This is disgusting. These pseudo-mullahs have turned Islam into an exercise in women baiting. There is no death penalty for blasphemy in Islam. The poor woman is being held out to hang over village gossip. How ‘Islamic’ is that?Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2010 - 9:35PM

    A question for the last poster. Would it be ok if there was death penalty in your version of islam? Why can’t you decide for yourself?Recommend

  • T R Khan
    Nov 18, 2010 - 10:10PM

    @Syed A. Mateen
    Religion is not a tit for tat phenomena. The West may be treating some Muslims unfairly, but following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) we cannot justify our harsh treatment of our minorities.
    @Governor Punjab and Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti
    Does only a death sentence and a domestic and international outcry wakens your conscious? Please campaign for the removal of this un-Islamic law. Recommend

  • Muneer
    Nov 18, 2010 - 11:22PM

    No Blasphemy case when Muslims insult Bible in Pakistan; double insult to Christians who get arrested for made up Blasphemy charges.Recommend

  • SharifL
    Nov 18, 2010 - 11:23PM

    Asia bibi needs to be freed, but more importantly this law needs to be done away with. Recommend

  • Humanity
    Nov 19, 2010 - 12:09AM

    @Musa “There is no death penalty for blasphemy in Islam. ”

    The blasphemy laws are un-Islamic according to the Quran and the sunnah of the Holy Prophet who ia a mercy for the entire universe.

    I hope and pray that the ordeal of Aasia’s family will end soon and that the barbaric laws will be repealed on an urgent basis. The people who are attacking victims of the blasphemy laws must be punished severely to set an example for other mischief and hate mongers.Recommend

  • Hasan Anwer
    Nov 19, 2010 - 12:23AM

    @ Aftab Wilson: Very well said … Pope always spoke against all discriminatory law … guess even when he was aiding the Nazis in Germany during his early years.

    @ Musa: What it has to do with pseudo-Mullahs ?? …. its a case launched by locals … be it a victimization against the minority women or bare any truth in it …. your statement shows the same state of hatred …. it must be some Mullah who communed your parents wedding …. or else world would have given you a different title. Recommend

  • Ahsan Iftikhar
    Nov 19, 2010 - 1:56AM

    to be brief, these blasphemy laws are they best method to destroy the Islam’s image in the worldRecommend

  • Kamil Bangash
    Nov 19, 2010 - 9:25AM

    We do not want any probes. This is a bad law and all such laws that were enacted under the ‘Islamization’ programme of Gen. Ziaul Haq should be repealed immediately so that no one is victimized in the future.
    This said, one thing should be understood clearly. And it is that all our dictators, including Ziaul Haq and Musharraf, were supported by the West with the US in the lead. There is no second opinion about that. Given this historical fact, it is understood that the West had given tacit approval of all acts of commission and omission by these dictators. ‘Islamization’ of our society was a necessity for Ziaul Haq’s personal survival and part of the US strategy for success of its ‘jihad’ against the former Soviet Union. So the US bears direct or indirect responsiblity for the promulgation of ‘Islamic’ laws, depending on which view you subscribe to. If the US can coerce the Pakistan military to go against the so-called Taliban, it can also force it, and the civilian facade that it is hiding behind for now, to repeal these laws, especially when the country is in such dire need of financial help. But is this going to happen? Your guess is as good as mine. The West is not the do-gooder some people would like to portray it as.
    Mr. Mateen, you have some good points but your argument is not valid, as Cronous has rightly pointed out. And why do you expect the Pope to stand up for Muslims? Is he the Imam of your local mosque? If anything, the present Pope has a Nazi history, which has been very conveniently ignored. As for Mr. Aftab’s comment that Christian hierarchy always spoke for human rights and never ever kept silent, he has been fed some crap for history. The Vatican remained totally silent on the massacre of Jews in World War II and has not been able to absolve itself of this crime yet. However, we should not be competing with Western countries on who will commit more atrocities against their minorities. Things are definitely getting bad in the West but there is no comparison to what is being done to our religious minorities in Pakistan. Recommend

  • rizwana
    Nov 19, 2010 - 9:38AM

    i wonder y pop did’t release any press statement for sympathy of dr.afia..coz she z muslim and can bear any punishment, surpriz on those who support relexation in rule of balsphmy…jazakallahRecommend

  • Maximus
    Nov 19, 2010 - 11:15AM

    By Article 33 of the Constitution of Pakistan, it is the country’s duty to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian, and provincial prejudices among the citizens.Recommend

  • S.Haque
    Nov 19, 2010 - 11:43AM

    It is actually surprising to see support by a few people for this disgusting law which should have been repealed long ago. Over the years this law has been used against the people, in direct violation of the human rights. In most cases, crazy mob killed the ccused outside the courts or in public places. Recommend

  • Hasan Anwer
    Nov 19, 2010 - 11:47AM

    @ Rizwana: Very well said sister.

    In the West (from Americas to Europe) we have “Holocaust” … in India we have “TADA” … so every country have their laws based on the need and requirement …. the utilisation and its implementation is a different topic.

    If Aasia Bibi hasn’t done anything she should be freed and her accusers should be punished …. and if she is guilty she should get the punishment as per the law.

    So there is nothing wrong with the law …. but the use of it … and for that the Government is responsible … and not mullahs.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 19, 2010 - 12:42PM

    @Hassan Anwer. My friend I think you are only interested in allegations not on facts. The present Pope never aided Nazis and this was only propagated by those who are commonly known as “Anti-Christ” who have nothing to do with any religion or faith. It was very clearly pronounced as RUBBISH by the Vatican. It was thoroughly investigated and was not found guilty. Don’t accept one side of the story try to follow the news of every allegation which is related to any top personality of any country. Here you can not runaway with factual position of minorities in Pakistan through some twist. Read my comments in a minute way.Recommend

  • Nov 19, 2010 - 1:02PM

    There is nothing wrong with the law? She has already spent more than a year in captivity for no crime. She should never have been arrested in the first place. This is ridiculous.Recommend

  • Sadaf
    Nov 19, 2010 - 2:22PM

    So what if she even said what she said. Big deal. Not everyone thinks Muhammad was the greatest person to ever live. Deal with it. Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Nov 19, 2010 - 2:25PM

    Why would any non-Muslim (that too in Pakistan) make the mistake of saying something that would annoy a Muslim. Only a crazy person would do so.

    Till the time the blasphemy law is revoked, all such accusations should be heard in the High Courts. If the accuser is found guilty of making a wrong statement, he should be punished.

    I my opinion certain people are misusing this law to their advantage. Recommend

  • S.Haque
    Nov 19, 2010 - 4:38PM

    Sister Rizwana!
    The “pop” didnt release a press statement for dr Aafia, not because she is a muslim but because she aided the extremists. Militancy is the gift she had to thank the US with, for her education and a chance to live a better life. Now the US can not be blamed for her mental state caused by the dreams of paradise. A little research on her and her first husband’s statements would further enlighten you. Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman
    Nov 20, 2010 - 2:01AM

    Being a Muslim I strongly demand there should be a law to punish blasphemers not only of Last Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH but also of all Holy prophets. It is unacceptable for me (and many other Muslims, I trust,) how ridiculously and humiliatingly West uses the word Christ, Jesus, Maryam in their movies/ literature etc.Recommend

  • Naveed Ahmed
    Nov 21, 2010 - 9:50AM

    v should not talk about her poverty or her being minority and there should not b any change in constitution. if she is innocent then she must b free but on the other way round rules are very clear. if v are a sovereign nation the pope or america should have no influence on us.I just emphasize on justice.Recommend

  • azeem yaqub
    Nov 21, 2010 - 7:06PM

    i think that she is not in a position of being re investigated so plz forgive her and leave her for her peace of mind and plz make sure that there should be no more any unlawful or unlawful situation to any one in pakistanRecommend

  • Navine
    Nov 29, 2010 - 8:55PM

    This is a very discouraging news came to know one week back. I am here on vacation to visit my parents in ISB and surprised to observe where this country is heading to. We are actually on a reverse gear. By shutting down cable foreign channels, blocking websites Govt is not helping either. West label us being Radical is very true. I dont see educated people in our society being elected to be in politics nor in any decision making field. Only people who are ignorant by nature are elected to be at higher Government and Political posts. It is a ominous circle. Even if someone suggests or convey opinion which I consider is more humane and logical, would be considered western brainwashed or insane in this society. God help us all, I dont know how to educate the society and make them aware how to think reasonably and openly rather than closed minded. We got a inherited obsolete system and no one is ready to change with the exception of few people of same thoughts and people who have lived and experienced living overseas. They too like me have no power, resources or security. Wild wild west is still alive and lives here in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sohail
    Dec 6, 2010 - 11:16AM

    She could be used effictively for Dr. Aafia Sadiqui if Govt is realy interested .Recommend

  • younas manzoor
    Dec 14, 2010 - 12:00PM

    Respect every one and do not interfare in relegious affairs
    this between God and peoples. Recommend

  • Sohail
    Dec 20, 2010 - 10:55AM

    But there should be no sympathy for those who do not respect PROPHETS.Recommend

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