A Pakistani mother of five, 47-year-old Asia Bibi, will soon learn whether she is to hanged for blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammed. She has been in jail for nine years and all of her appeals been rejected. Her only hope is a reprieve from Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Her crime? There are conflicting reports of what actually happened to this simple woman from Punjab. But the worst that she might have done is this. She, her husband and her children were the only Roman Catholics in her village. In 2009 she was working in the fields on a sweltering day and went to the village well for a drink of water. A Muslim woman screamed at her to stop as she was defiling the well by drinking from it. In exasperation Asia Bibi retorted, “What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”
This led to riots, physical violence against her, and a threat: conversion or death. She was arrested and sentenced to death under Section 295C of Pakistan’s Penal Code. In 2011 the Muslim governor of Punjab and a Catholic minister in the national cabinet (the only Christian) were assassinated for speaking up in Asia Bibi’s defence and criticising the country’s blasphemy laws.
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