Too often in our lives we read the news but just let the events pass us by without taking any personal action to stop the evil that affects the weakest among us. In many nations, such as Pakistan, woman and religious minorities are the victims of abuse by the majority of the population and the government; those of us from powerful nations rarely do anything to pressure our leaders to help these people despite the fact that our tax dollars provide these abusive regimes with the foreign aid needed for their leaders to say in power.
One woman who will soon be forgotten by the public was profiled yesterday in The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom. Her name is Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, who works in the fields to help support her family. The government of Pakistan has sentenced her to death based on a false accusation blasphemy – her coworkers falsely accused her of speaking ill of the Prophet Mohammed to avoid having to work with a person of the Christian faith, a persecuted minority in Pakistan.
Mrs. Bibi’s real crime is that while working in the fields with her co-workers, all rural laborers of the Islamic faith of which they clearly have little understanding, ran out of drinking water. Mrs. Bibi went and retrieved a bucket of drinking water for the woman. Her Islamic co-workers claimed that the water she bought them was ‘unclean’ because it was provided by Mrs. Bibi who is a Christian. Such a teaching is found no where in Islam, the Holy Koran, or in the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. Her co-workers who are clearly uneducated on the teachings of their faith and are prejudice against Mrs. Bibi minority status made a false claim against her of blasphemy.
As citizens of powerful and rich nations we can help this woman. Our governments provide Pakistan with foreign aid and therefore listen to requests by our governments. Please take a moment to write to an official of your government and ask for them to help Mrs. Bibi receive a pardon from the government of Pakistan and asylum for her and her family in the United States, Canada, France or the United Kingdom.
I have already personally contacted Secretary of State Clinton and one of Britain’s highest ranking intelligence officials
Politicians need your support to stay in power so when enough people complain action is taken.
People I suggest writing:
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Hounorable William Jefferson Hague, Foreign Secretary
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
The United Kingdom
Monsieur Bernard Kouchner
Ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes
Ministère des Affaires étrangères
Mr. Lawrence Cannon
The Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.
Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death 'for blasphemy'
Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.
Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.
Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.
"I haven't told two of my younger daughters about the court's decision," he said. "They asked me many times about their mother but I can't get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed." Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.
The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.
Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore "unclean", according to Mrs Bibi's evidence, sparking a row.
The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.
The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.
Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: "The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.
"So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her." He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.
"The trial was clear," he said. "She was innocent and did not say those words." Earlier this year, Pakistan's internet service providers were ordered to block Facebook to prevent access to supposedly blasphemous images.
Human rights groups believe the law is often used to discriminate against religious minorities, such as the country's estimated three million Christians.
Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan's blasphemy laws – most are freed on appeal – as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.
Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch, said the blasphemy laws were out of step with rights guaranteed under Pakistan's constitution and should be repealed.
"It's an obscene law," he said. "Essentially the blasphemy law is used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.
"It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it's often used against them."
Help Save the Life of Asia Bibi: Support persecuted women and religious minorities.
Too often in our lives we read the news but just let the events pass us by without taking any personal action to stop the evil that affects the weakest among us. In many nations, such as Pakistan, woman and religious minorities are the victims of abuse by the majority of the population and the government; those of us from powerful nations rarely do anything to pressure our leaders to help these people despite... (read more)