Asia Bibi’s story has captivated Christians around the world since she was arrested on blasphemy charges over a decade ago, and we know that Open Doors supporters have long been among those fervently praying for her release and safety. Praise God, she was allowed to leave Pakistan in May 2019, and was reunited with her daughter in Canada!
Now Asia has spoken out about justice for those imprisoned under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. In her first ever newspaper interview, given to The Sunday Telegraph, she speaks of her wish that the world would pay greater attention to the victims of those laws. She is grateful that the Supreme Court acquitted her, but points out that others are not getting fair trials.
“There are many other cases where the accused are lying in jail for years and their decision should also be done on merit. The world should listen to them.
“I request the whole world to pay attention to this issue. The way any person is alleged of blasphemy without any proper investigation without any proper proof, that should be noticed. This blasphemy law should be reviewed and there should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law. We should not consider anyone sinful for this act without any proof.”
It is estimated that 77 other people are in prison under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and allegations are often made spitefully or to silence rivals.
You can read the story in The Sunday Telegraph.
Asia was found guilty of blasphemy charges after being arrested in 2009 for allegedly making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammad. These comments were said to have been made during an argument with a Muslim woman who had refused water from Asia, on the grounds that it was ‘unclean’ because it had been handled by a Christian.
Asia was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Article 295C of Pakistan’s penal code. She was granted leave to appeal the death sentence in 2015, and was finally acquitted and released from prison in November 2018. She had been living on death row for eight years.
Despite an appeal being launched – during which she was not allowed to leave the country – this was thrown out in January 2019, and she was later allowed to leave the country. Praise God! Now that she is in a secret location in Canada, she is no longer at risk from the vigilantes who were angry at her acquittal.
Pakistan is number 5 on the World Watch List. Blasphemy laws are often used to target Christians, and conversion from Islam is seen as a source of shame, as well as danger for the new believer. In cooperation with local churches and partners, Open Doors supports the church in Pakistan through training, literacy and vocational projects, emergency aid and trauma therapy.
- For protection for Christians in Pakistan, and justice for those in prison
- For Asia and her family, as they seek to follow Christ in a new country
- That the hearts of lawmakers would be convicted, and Pakistan’s blasphemy laws changed.