Source: The Christian Post
August 25, 2016
The American Center for Law and Justice and other groups are calling on Christians to raise up their voices to support Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five whose death sentence appeal will be heard by Pakistan's Supreme Court in October.
Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on allegations of blasphemy after two co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court set a date in October for her final appeal hearing to determine whether she will be executed or not.
The ACLJ is urging Christians to sign a petition, which has over 417,000 signatures as of Thursday morning, describing Bibi's case as the "ultimate human rights violation," and calls for her release.
The conservative law group said that the European Centre for Law and Justice's affiliate in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid, was able to speak with the Christian mother's attorney, who confirmed the October date for the hearing.
"Normally it takes about three to five years for a case to come up for a hearing before the Supreme Court. But since the petition for early hearing was granted, the case will be forwarded to the court's registrar to set the date," the ACLJ explained.
The hearing will be crucial, as it will decide whether Bibi will be put to death, which would be the first legal execution in Pakistan over a blasphemy case.
Details of Bibi's case show that she was arrested in June 2009 while picking berries with a group of Muslim women in the town of Sheikhupura in the Punjab province who got upset that she drank from the same water bowl as them. Following an argument, the Muslim women went to police and accused Bibi of saying something along the lines of "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?"
The 51-year-old mother has been in prison for the past six years, which has placed a spotlight on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws and driven several persecution watchdog groups to call for her freedom.
International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for South Asia William said: "Threats from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan have transformed courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case."
Bibi's case even reached Pope Francis at the Vatican, who in April met with and prayed for her family in Rome.
"We are here in Italy to make sure we can be the voice of an innocent woman who has been suffering in jail for six years," Catholic News Agency quoted Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih.
"Since the day Asia Bibi was arrested, our family is totally destroyed. The children cannot survive without their mother. Asia Bibi misses her children, the children miss her," Masih added.