The West Must Say “Je Suis Asia Bibi”

by Giulio Meotti

The death sentence for Asia Bibi is like Chernobyl’s nuclear cloud: it contaminates everything around it. After Asia’s arrest, her husband, Masih, and her children went into hiding. They have moved house 15 times in five years. They could not even attend Asia’s judicial hearings. It is too dangerous for them. Her husband was forced to quit his job.

Asia’s “crime” was to use the same water glass as her Muslim co-workers. She was sentenced to death because she is Christian and she was thirsty. “You defiled our water,” the Muslim women told her. “Convert to Islam to redeem yourself from your filthy religion.”

Asia took a deep breath and replied: “I will not convert. I believe in my religion and Jesus Christ. And why should I be the one to convert and not you?”

On November 8, 2010, after just five minutes of deliberation, Asia Noreen Bibi, under Article 295 of the Pakistani Code, was sentenced to death by hanging. The crowd cheered the verdict. She was alone and burst into tears. Next to her there were two policemen, visibly satisfied. In the days after, 50,000 people in Karachi and 40,000 in Lahore took the streets to brandish an image of Asia Bibi with the rope around her neck. They say they will not rest until she is hanged or shot.

Pakistani Islamists recently gathered to demand the immediate execution of this woman, who has been jailed for 2,500 days. Fears for the life of Bibi — the first Christian woman sentenced to be hanged in Pakistan on spurious charges of “blasphemy” — have grown after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, a brave Muslim reformer who paid with his life for expressing support for Asia Bibi. Lawyers defending people accused of blasphemy are sometimes murdered as well.

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