Blasphemy Laws and Sharia in Pakistan: What Lessons to Draw From the Asia Bibi Affair?

Blasphemy Laws and Sharia in Pakistan: What Lessons to Draw from the Asia Bibi Affair?

Blasphemy Laws and Sharia in Pakistan: What Lessons to Draw from the Asia Bibi Affair?



A Mere Incident in a Rural Village in Pakistan…

Almost ten years ago, in June 2009, in a rural village in Pakistan, a fervent Catholic peasant and mother of five worked in the countryside along with Muslim women. Feeling thirsty because of the extreme heat, she went to a well to draw some water. Immediately, the Muslims began screaming that Asia was soiling the well and making the water impure.

An argument about religion ensued. At one point, Asia affirmed that Jesus had died for us and asked what Muhammed had done for them. The Muslim women began screaming “blasphemy!” and assaulting her and her daughter. The local police arrested her and, in 2010, a Pakistani court condemned her to death for the crime of blasphemy against Islam’s prophet.

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Authorities That Dared Defend Her Were Murdered

Although a Muslim, Salmaan Taseer, Governor of the Punjab region where the fact occurred, opposed Asia Bibi’s arrest and condemnation. He even went with his wife and daughter to visit her in prison. Death was the reward for this act of humanity and justice: On January 4, 2011, he was assassinated by his bodyguard at the Kohsar Market in Islamabad, Pakistan’s political capital.

Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti met the same fate. A fervent Catholic, he came out in defense of Asia Bibi and received death threats. Unintimidated, he said he was ready to die in defense of the unjustly accused Christian woman. He paid with his life for his courage and coherence: On March 11, 2011, he was assassinated in Islamabad.

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Muftis Threaten the Supreme Court

Given the great repercussion the case aroused throughout the world, Asia Bibi’s death sentence was suspended.

Her lawyers appealed the verdict, but time and again the “Supreme Court of Pakistan postponed her appeal amid death threats by 150 muftis (Muslim legal experts) against anyone who would assist ‘blasphemers.’”1

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Finally, on October 31, 2018, she was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, based in Islamabad. Since 2013, she had spent over 3,400 days “languishing in one of the three windowless cells on death row in the southern province of Multan in the Punjab Penitentiary.”2

Absolved by the Court…but Condemned by Imams

However, even after her absolution, Asia Bibi’s situation remains extremely serious.

Even before the ruling, Imam Abdul Rasheed had stated that “if Asia Bibi is released by the Supreme Court, the whole Pakistan will protest against the verdict and Asia Bibi will be punished anyway.”3

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As AsiaNews reports, after the verdict by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, “Some radical groups led by imams have already decreed that they will oppose her release. In many cities of Punjab, there are demonstrations and roadblocks. Many Christian schools have warned parents to go and get their children from school because they would wish to close the buildings for fear of violence.”4

Blasphemy Laws and Sharia Here Too?

While Asia Bibi’s absolution is a reason for all Catholics to rejoice, it is mingled with apprehension for the delicate situation in which she still is.

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However, in addition to the terrible ordeal inflicted upon this Catholic mother, this is an occasion for us to reflect on a danger that will hound us sooner than we imagine.

Asia Bibi was condemned under so-called blasphemy laws, an application of Sharia, the Islamic law.

By opening the gates to the real invasion of Islamic immigration, the West is paving the way for the introduction of Sharia among us.

This is not mere speculation. Especially in Europe, we are witnessing a growing acceptance of Sharia and even Islamic police, setting up an illicit parallel legal system to that of the host country.5

May this dramatic episode serve us as a warning and raise our awareness about this aspect of the Islamic religion, for, in Islam, everything is religious.

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During Holy Week 2016, she composed a beautiful prayer that was published in the West:

Resurrected Lord, allow your daughter Asia to rise
again with you. Break my chains, make my heart free and
go beyond these bars, and accompany my soul so that it
is close to those who are dear to me, and that it remains
always near you. Do not abandon me in the day of trouble,
do not deprive me of your presence. You who have
suffered torture and the cross, alleviate my suffering. Hold
me near you, Lord Jesus.6

She continues:

On the day of your resurrection, Jesus, I want to pray
for my enemies, for all those who hurt me. I pray to you
for them and beg you to forgive them for the evil they
have done. I ask you, Lord, to remove every obstacle so
that I can obtain the good gift of freedom. I ask you to
protect my family and me.7

Footnotes

  1. Isabelle Cousturie, “Asia Bibi has spent more than 3,000 days in prison for blasphemy,” Aleteia, Sept. 18, 2017, https://aleteia.org/2017/09/18/asia-bibi-has-spent-more-than-3000-days-in-prison-for-blasphemy/?print=1.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “New Evidence,” AsiaBibi.org, accessed Nov. 1, 2018, http://asiabibi.org/?lang=en.
  4. “Asia Bibi acquitted. Islamic radicals in revolt,” AsiaNews.it, Oct. 31, 2018, http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Asia-Bibi-acquitted.-Islamic-radicals-in-revolt-45352.html.
  5. See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, Islam and the Suicide of the West (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 2018), 25-9.
  6. Isabelle Cousturie, “Asia Bibi has spent more than 3,000 days in prison for blasphemy,” Aleteia, Sept. 18, 2017, https://aleteia.org/2017/09/18/asia-bibi-has-spent-more-than-3000-days-in-prison-for-blasphemy/.
  7. Paolo Affatato, “Asia Bibi: ‘Signore, spezza le mie catene,’” La Stampa/Vatican Insider, Apr. 15, 2017, https://www.lastampa.it/2017/04/15/vaticaninsider/asia-bibi-signore-spezza-le-mie-catene-ceogCdpydp6bVzhvWrkToI/pagina.html.

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