Blasphemy case: Minister to submit report to president today

Published: November 21, 2010
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The daughters of Asia Bibi with an image of their mother, standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura on November 13, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

The daughters of Asia Bibi with an image of their mother, standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura on November 13, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti will submit a report about Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, to President Asif Zardari on Tuesday.

“The minister (Bhatti) has been asked to dig out facts in the case,” presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told The Express Tribune on Saturday. He added that there were conflicting media reports with some suggesting that Aasia was implicated in a blasphemy case to settle some other dispute.

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who visited Aasia on Saturday, reportedly claimed that the woman has appealed for clemency to the president. He said she had steadfastly denied any instance of blasphemy and declared that she was being wrongly accused of the crime, besides being dragged in streets and gang-raped. Taseer said he would personally carry her clemency request to the president.

However, the presidential spokesperson said it would be premature to say if the president would accept any such plea. He added that the presidency has not received any clemency application so far. He added that under the law such pleas come to the president only through the ministry of interior.

In most cases people convicted in lower courts on charges such as that of blasphemy are exonerated during the process of appeals in the higher courts. The presidential pardon is considered as a last option.

According to estimates, between the year 1988 and 2005 some 647 people were charged under the blasphemy law, which was enforced by General Ziaul Haq. Fifty per cent of the people charged were non-Muslim. Twenty of those charged were murdered soon after their sentences.

Aasia, a 45-year-old Christian woman, was sentenced to death by additional district and sessions court in Sheikhupura last week for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Aasia, mother of five children, has denied the charge of blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • shibu yohannan
    Nov 21, 2010 - 3:42PM

    It is very sad to see a fellow human being executed for derogatory remarks. God is merciful and when we follow and worship such a merciful God, shouldn’t we also be merciful to our brothers and sisters. The people who are carrying out such an act in the name of man made law will soon find their match when God Almighty will judge them not leaving out even an idle word spoken let alone murder of a fellow human. I pray to the Almighty that Aasia be given a chance because He is the graceful and the most merciful.

    shibuRecommend

  • qamar
    Nov 21, 2010 - 4:12PM

    why don’t they respect our religion?Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Nov 21, 2010 - 5:44PM

    Poor Lady caught into the act. The case has to be beyond reasonable doubt, secondly the law has to be passed by the parliament rather than just General Zia ul Haq. The poor lady looks to me even illiterate and she is denying it as well.

    The facts go back to June 2009. Asia Bibi, a farm worker, was asked to fetch water whilst out in the fields, working. A group of Muslim women laborers objected, saying she should not touch the water bowl because as a non-Muslim, she would make it impure.

    Later, some of the women tried to get Asia to forsake Christianity and convert to Islam. During the exchange, the Christian woman said that Jesus died on the cross for humanity’s sins, asking the Muslims women what Muhammad had done for them.

    A few days later, the Muslim women went to their local imam, and accused Asia Bibi of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. One of the women is the imam’s wife. The religious leader then went to the police to file a complaint.

    Asia Bib was arrested in the village of Ittanwalai under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which bans defaming the prophet and carries the death penalty.

    She has also accused others of gang rape. What you can expect anyone’s mental condition if being insulted, dragged in streets and gang-raped, if it is true. If this question would have been put to a wiser Muslim rather than those women laborers he would have told her what Mohammad p.b.u.h. did for humanity.
    It’s a misuse of blasphemy law for personal van data.Recommend

  • Humanity
    Nov 21, 2010 - 7:41PM

    @qamar “why don’t they respect our religion?”

    Why don’t you respect your own religion which is mercy and love?

    Blasphemy laws are blasphemous ! People who enshrined these laws, and those who invoke them , support them, or stay indifferent to them commit blasphemy.

    The law is against teachings and spirit of Islam. The law is against the sunnah of the Holy Prophet, rahmatullilalameen (SAW), who himself forgave the people who abused him. Islam teaches tolerance and forgiveness and is not an ugly tool to settle personal dispute by lying and implicating others through one’s ignorance and arrogance.

    @qamar — reflect on the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and they come back on this forum to say “we need to respect our religion by respecting and following the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW). May Allah (swt) guide you and heal your heart of hatred and your mind of ignorance. Ameen.Recommend

  • Riaz
    Nov 22, 2010 - 12:30AM

    I really can’t understand how a illiterate laborer can damage Islam for whose protection Allah has promised.
    I get into discussion of various faiths and discussion some times in Christianity and its beliefs.
    If Christians enacted laws like they used to have …then people will be hanged i guess.
    Why the whole country feels that we can use religion to victimize minorities. people can discuss religion any where without being accused of blasphemy.Recommend

  • Nov 22, 2010 - 5:33AM

    First of all I don’t believe she ever did anything wrong. Even if she uttered some phrases or sentences, how can a poor Christian woman hurt Islam or the honor of the Beloved Prophet (pbuh) in the “Fortress of Islam” through her idle talk in front of a few people?

    If anything such talk would be an opportunity for Muslims to show that they are a tolerant people. Unfortunately not so in Pakistan.

    The blasphemy laws must be repealed. Suo moto now!!!Recommend

  • Aisha
    Nov 22, 2010 - 6:53PM

    Allah is The Most Merciful indeed and He is Our Creator and The Most Wise. He chose Prophet Munhammad(may Allah’s Peace and Mercy be upon him) among all the humanity and raised his staus to the final Prophet. Allah made him the most respected and respectable among mankind. and it is incumband upon every muslim to love him more than the love of everything. My question is if somebody badmouths you or your ancestors or any of your close relative what would be your response? this man made law of “freedom of expression” is acceptable to us if somebody disrespects the one we should always follow and should respect. shame on all the muslims who claim to be a muslim but they fail to be a muslim.
    Facts should be gathered and the one accused of commiting this crime must be brought to justice. as Allah is The Most Judge. Allah is going to account everybody for what they utter and what they do. Recommend

  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:50PM

    If Asiya was raped, it is she who should be seeking to bring the criminals to justice. Let this be a test case for a reasonable and just Pakistan!Recommend

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