Pakistan Church says Asia Bibi must be defended cautiously

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The Church in Pakistan said that all of the efforts to prevent the execution of Catholic mother Asia Bibi requires prudence on the part of her defenders.

According to Gaudium Press, the director of the National Committee on Justice and Peace of the Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, Father Emannuel Yousaf Mani, said the concern about the international campaigns to help Bibi is understandable. 

“But the life of this woman is very important to us, and we will do nothing to endanger her life...We should wait in silence for the Court to hear her appeal.”

Bibi's case gained worldwide attention in 2010 when she was condemned to death for allegedly  violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which state that anyone who offends Islam will be hanged. Critics say the country's blasphemy laws are often unjust and have become a tool for abusing religious minorities as well as vengeance between Muslims.

Bibi is still awaiting a ruling on the appeal of her death sentence and has been moved to an isolated cell without any windows, sink or toilet because of Muslim threats against her life. 

Fr. Yousaf said that caution on the part of the Church in Pakistan arises from concerns that those who “pressured for an indult in favor of Bibi ended up being killed by Muslim extremists.”

A “pardon amidst a climate of contentious public opinion,” he added, “would not necessarily save the lives of Asia Bibi and her family.”

Muslim Governor Salman Taseer was the first to lose his life for his support of Asia Bibi when he was gunned down in 2011 by a member of his own security detail, who afterwards said he was proud that he had killed him because of his comments criticizing Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

That same year, a group of extremists killed the only Catholic in the Pakistani government, Shabaz Bhatti, who was the Minister of Affairs for Minorities and who opposed the law on blasphemy and spoke out publicly in defense of Bibi.

Lastly, Anne-Isabelle Tollet, the journalist and author of the book, “Get Me Out of Here,” which recounts the personal drama of Asia Bibi, said all the members of Bibi’s family “are under death threats and live in hiding, moving frequently and unable to work. 

The children miss their mother very much and they have stopped going to school out of safety concerns. The youngest child is only nine years old.”

Asia Bibi is currently in solitary confinement due to the threats she receives from other inmates. One Muslim cleric named Peshawar has offered 5000 Euros to the person who kills her.

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