Source: The Gospel Herald
October 7, 2015
Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death in Pakistan, needs fervent prayer more than ever, as she is living in horrific conditions and is faced with constant pressure to embrace Islam. Despite constant persecution, Bibi refuses to deny her Christian faith.
On Tuesday, Mission Network News reported that sources from the ALIVE network of churches have gained insight into the conditions at the women's block in Multan Jail, where Bibi is being held.
According to MNN, those individuals found that the building "does not have any system of cross ventilation."
"There are sets of two beds placed on one another in a vertical manner to double the capacity. There are a total of 6 unhygienic toilets which are, in the words of a former prisoner, 'not sufficient for the number of inmates,'" the report added.
Although the prison block has a capacity of 30-40 prisoners, nearly 150 inmates are being detained there.
"Multan's summers are extremely hot," said a former prisoner. "Combine this with overcrowding, poor sanitation, heating, lighting, and ventilation in the jail, and you realize the hell hole where Asia's single cell is located."
Bibi, along with the other prisoners, is also required to sit before the Quran for hours and read the Islamic holy text. They have been told that if they praise Allah and ask for forgiveness, their sentence will be reduced.
"It is not just the sound of the five times of prayer that Asia is surrounded by. Every waking hour she hears the wailing of broken and often mentally-disturbed women mixed with the sound of the Quran being read out loud. Prison is no quiet place," the report continued.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Bibi was sent to prison six years ago and sentenced to death after she was accused of breaking the country's strict blasphemy laws. Her arrest occurred after she got into an argument with a group of Muslim women over a water supply, and asked them, "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammed do for you?"
In July, Bibi's death sentence was temporarily suspended, and she is now waiting for Pakistan's Supreme Court to decide her fate.
"In Pakistan and abroad, Aasiya (Asia) has become a symbol of suffering for one's faith," an ALIVE worker told persecution watchdog Open Doors. "She is not just another victim lacerated by Pakistan's hatred and injustice towards a broken and beaten community. She is a symbol for a community which pays for its faith with its mothers, wives, fathers, husbands and children. The rage and brutality against Pakistani Christians continues today."
She added: "The question on most people's mind is 'why does God allow this to happen?' For me, the purpose is clear. Aasiya is a symbol for all Christians, both in Pakistan and internationally; she is a living example of the need to come to the Lord in prayer. Our ALIVE teams feel deeply invested in cases like Aasiya's. We have been raising prayer support for Aasiya for many years and have been encouraging local Christians to take the lead in praying for their sister in prison."
A Pakistani pastor also told Open Doors, "We need the international community to keep telling Aasiya's story so she is not forgotten. Do not antagonize the judiciary and the police here in Pakistan, but do keep reminding them that you have not forgotten Aasiya's predicament."
The local pastor also emphasized that should Pakistani police become enraged by the international press highlighting brutality against Aasiya, the backlash against her would be severe.
Pakistan is ranked #8 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.