Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan 'for blasphemy' :
A Christian woman has been sentenced to hang in Pakistan after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.
The case stems from a dispute between Bibi and a group of Muslim women over the use of a water bowl.
The other women accused her of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
Criticism of Islam :
She has been in prison for one-and-a-half years and her case has been appealed.
Aasia Bibi, mother of four, is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy law which rights groups say is often exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.
“I told police that I have not committed any blasphemy and this is a wrong accusation, but they did not listen to me,” Bibi told reporters after meeting with Salman Taseer, governor of the central Punjab province where she is imprisoned.
Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.
Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.
Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan
CFI Calls on UN to Condemen Pakistani Women’s Death Sentence
Pope Benedict XVI calls for release of Christian sentenced to hang in Pakistan
*** 3 Petitions to Free Asia Bibi
1__To: Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
this one ( thanks to Joanna )
2__To: Ambassador Husain Haqqani
CC: Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
"You're an idiot," the Muslim says to the Christian when they get in an argument. "And you believe in nonsense."
"You're a bigger idiot!" replies the Christian. "And at least I don't believe in a prophet that married little girls!"
"That's not true!" says the Muslim. "And Jesus was a fake!"
"Mohammad was a conqueror," says the Christian. "And a big dummy."
In most situation, this mindless exchange would end, at worst, in tears.
In Pakistan, and a number of Muslim countries for that matter, it can end in a rope being wrapped around the non-Muslim's neck as they are strangled until they haven't a breath left in them in front of their entire community.
But the next candidate to be hung to death for allegedly anti-Muslim comments in Pakistan is no ordinary blasphemist - it's a woman.
Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother from Punjab, was convicted of blasphemy last month over comments made during a 2009 fight. Currently in a prison near Lahore, Asia Bibi's punishment is mandatory death, making her the first female in Pakistan to be sentenced to hang for blasphemy.
Asia Bibi claims she did not say whatever anti-Muslim words some of her fellow citizens feel make her worthy of death. There is a lot of local activism around her case and many have called for her release, including the Pope. But there are many conservatives in the country who advocate for her death and passionately defend the country's blasphemy law. One cleric has even put a bounty on her head.
Rhetoric aside, no one convicted of blasphemy has ever actually been put to death in Pakistan.
But as the case becomes a rallying cry for radical Muslim groups in Pakistan, both Asia Bibi and her family are in increasing danger. Her husband, a poor brick maker, has already taken their children into hiding. There are countless cases of Christians, who make up just 2 percent of the country, being killed for their faith. A young Christian man accused of blasphemy last year was murdered while in prison, and Christian leaders in Pakistan warn that Asia Bibi is not safe.
One influential lone star has taken on her case: the governor. Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab province, went to visit Asia Bibi in jail last month and told President Asif Ali Zardari that she deserved clemency, a daring move for the leader of a region that is increasingly intolerant of religious minorities. The President agreed, and is reviewing the case.
More importantly, Taseer's efforts have led to the country's first prominent public debate of the blasphemy laws, which more than 100 Pakistanis are charged with each year.
Pakistan's parliament is considering a new blasphemy law which would require criminal intent to be proven for a blasphemy conviction and which would shorten sentences. A number of Human Rights organizations, including both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called for the total repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
In the meantime, it's incumbent upon all of us to help keep up the pressure on the Pakistani government to release Asia Bibi. A new petition, directed at specific Pakistani foreign ministry officials, is below.