Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old Pakistani Christian mother who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy under the country's controversial blasphemy laws, is in good health, but her family needs more support.
The British Pakistani Christian Association, headed by Wilson and Juliet Chowdhry, says in a message to its supporters: “Many of our readers have requested an update on Asia Bibi, the brave woman of strong faith who has become an emblem for the freedom, equality and justice movement of Pakistan.
“Asia is a mother of five children -- one [who] is disabled -- who has been incarcerated for two years on concocted blasphemy charges. Asia has not seen her children during this time due to the potential threat to their safety.”
The message continued by saying that it is working with partners in Pakistan, in particular a group called Minority Coverage Foundation (MCF) in Lahore, and added, “We have been able to obtain as full a report as possible at this stage.”
It said that MCF's president, Emanuel Gulzar, responded to a number of questions we put before him.
Gulzar began by saying, “Asia is in good health and she believes God will save her, but she has stated that she will have no remorse if her life is taken in God's name.”
Mr. Gulzar confirmed that an appeal has been lodged on her behalf but he could not provide any details regarding any date for a hearing.
“The BPCA is aware that such appeals can be left pending for many years, due to a massive back log. We call on Christians across the globe to pray for expediency in the process of allocating a hearing date,” the message continued.
In a frank statement, Mr. Gulzar stated that in the early period many local people and organizations offered help and support to the family of Asia. He believes that the assistance has reduced significantly and has insinuated that “fear of reprisals has been the trigger.”
Mr. Gulzar had kept the family in his own home for 10 days and is aware that they have been moving around from place to place for both security reasons, and due to a lack of a funded secure home.
“It would seem that there is a need for support for this family we are reopening our fund to help this family. We shall use MCF as a conduit for support for the family and would like to contribute towards the daily upkeep of the family,” said the story.
“MCF is a government-registered [Pakistani] non-profit organization and we will be seeking a clear audit trail for any funds provided to them. I will as a consequence of any funds obtained, be contacting the husband of Asia Bibi [Ashiq Masih] through MCF with intent to confirm that funds are being used appropriately and to keep up to date with the family's wellbeing.
“We have spoken with the husband before and are in contact with a number of groups who can validate the authenticity of calls with Ashiq Masih.”
Note from Dan Wooding: Ms. Bibi is in the women’s wing of Sheikhupura Prison (near Lahore, Punjab) and is under constant threat from Muslim extremists. Still, her faith is strong and she has not lost hope of being freed soon. She is in fact praying and regularly fasting despite her weak physical and vulnerable condition.
This article published on June 7, 2011. Copyright 2011 ASSIST News Service. Used by permission.