Saturday, December 04, 2010

The threat of death to a Christian woman in Pakistan

What adds to the terror of this cleric's call for the death of this woman is that standing with him in the picture that VOA provides of him is a bloc of men who presumably consent to his edict. The last time a Christian man was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan he was exonerated by the court, but as he left the steps of the building he was gunned down by unknown assassins. In this woman's case, even if she is actually exonerated by the courts, she and her family can never be sure that she [or they] can ever be safe in Pakistan. It can be no comfort that several officials are embarrassed by the affair. The absence of a serious outcry by the public evinces how dangerous it is to be a Christian in Pakistan -- but not a Christian only: an Ahmadi or [in someplaces] a Shia. Minorities cannot be sure they are safe in Pakistan because religious zeal has become a device of politics. The people of the country have to bear this because its leaders suppose that extremists can be useful in a [supposedly forthcoming] war against India.

Pakistan Cleric Offers Reward for Killing Christian Woman

VOA News04 December 2010

A Pakistani cleric says if the government does not hang a Christian mother of five convicted last month of blasphemy against Islam, then his mosque will offer a reward of $6,000 to anyone who kills her. Yousef Qureshi issued the call Friday.

Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs Shabaz Bhatti has recommended that Asia Bibi be pardoned or released from prison if her pending court appeal is not quickly addressed.

Bibi has denied claims by local women that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.

Bibi is the first woman condemned to die under Pakistan's blasphemy law. Convictions under the law are common, but no executions have ever been carried out.

During her trial, Bibi told the court Muslim villagers were pressing her to accept Islam. She said she is being prosecuted because of her religion.

Bibi's husband says the family has been forced to flee their home near Lahore because of threats on his wife's life if she is released from prison.

Pakistan's Christians, who make up less than five percent of the country's 175 million people, have long complained of discrimination. Christian and human rights groups have expressed shock at Bibi's death sentence and have begun an online petition calling for Pakistan blasphemy law to be repealed.

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