ASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Shaw: "We will join Asia Bibi in prayers and fasting "

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 blasphemy   religious minorities   persecutions   asia bibi   bishops   local churches   justice   human rights  


Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "Our hope and our hearts are with her: on 27 April we will be united in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting with Asia Bibi, praying to God for her freedom and peace ": Fides was told this by the Archbishop of Lahore Sebastian Shaw, welcoming the appeal launched by Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, sentenced to death on false charges of blasphemy and detained in the prison of Multan. The appeal was launched through her family.
Fides informed Joseph Nadeem, head of the Renaissance Education Foundation in Lahore and guardian of Asia’s family, that Asia calls on all Christians and all men and women of good will all over the world to live with her a special day of prayer and fasting Friday 27 April.
Asia told her family that she was deeply touched to hear that the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court Saqib Nisar recently declared that he will assume personal responsibility for the case and as soon as possible will establish the date of the next hearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Bishop Khadim Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan Bishops Council, told Fides: "I appreciate the decision taken by the Supreme Court Judge, it was a necessary step. The poor woman has suffered for so long". He added:" The Judge should also consider similar cases of innocent persons in prison calling for justice ".
The Pakistan Bishops Council comprises some 40 Bishops of various Protestant denominations including Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Adventists, Methodists and others, and works with the local Catholic Church to promote unity among all Pakistan’s Christians. Bishop Khadim Bhutto said that Judge Sadiq "is working hard to render justice to the people of Pakistan".
Last week in a meeting with Asia Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook, Pakistan’s Supreme Court Judge said as soon as possible he will call a hearing for Asia Bibi. He also gave orders to reconfirm previously revoked security measures and protection for Saiful Malook who is following four other cases of reported blasphemy.
Asia Bibi has been detained since 2009 on false charges of Blasphemy reported by Muslim women and an Imam, following an argument. In November 2010 she was given the death sentence by the lower court in Nanka district and four years later the verdict was confirmed by Lahore High Court . The case now rests before the Supreme Court. There have been many postponements also due to the delicacy of the case and threats and pressure from radical Islamic groups. Sabir Michael, Catholic activist and human rights activist commented to Fides: "Delayed justice is no justice. Rule of Law must prevail over fundamentalist groups ". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides 25/4/2018)


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