October 8, 2016: Pakistani Christians have expressed great joy and fear on news that Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi- Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim will finally have her long awaited Supreme Court appeal heard during the second week of October. Now it seems that the whole world is joining the protest.
To fight against the Pakistan Blasphemy law, Australia has also come forward to show their protest by organising a rally recently. The rally started at 11am on the steps of the Parliament House of NSW 6 Macquarie St Sydney. Followed by which a petition was presented to the Pakistani Consulate at 109 Pitt St Sydney at 12.30 pm – a short walk from Parliament house.
The plight of a Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been jailed for seven years under the notorious blasphemy laws of Pakistan, has led to a demonstration in Sydney Australia. The demonstration coincides with the start of a Supreme court appeal against the blasphemy charge laid against her.
— Be Heard Project (@BeHeardProject) August 11, 2016
We ask Australians to Step Up and involve themselves in the Campaign To Save Asia Bibi From the Blasphemy Death Sentence and oppose Sharia Law in Australia, says Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA). He has also made efforts to give voice to Asia Bibi’s sufferings:
“Asia Bibi has suffered the Injustice of five years imprisonment for a made up crime. A cultural faux pas and innocuous comment made while being attacked, led to her being raped her children sexually molested and her arrest under the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan for good measure.
‘As a devout Christian, she continues to believe God will free her from her ignominious incarceration. She prays daily and has placed her life and her family before God.”
“I have spoken to Pakistani government officials and the judiciary. All I have spoken to are shocked at the ongoing abuse of her liberty. Yet her tragedy continues and I have come to the conclusion that all I have been receiving is diplomatic lip service, devoid of passion for justice.”
“Her story is one of oppression and discrimination and despite international pressure, statutory authorities and the Government of Pakistan have failed her, just as they have failed all minorities in Pakistan.”
Protesters are calling for the Australian Government to intervene on behalf of Asia Bibi, who they say was falsely accused of denigrating the Islamic prophet Muhammed. They seek diplomatic engagement between the Australian Government and Pakistani Government to ensure that Asia has a fair trial and that her family. the judiciary and legal team representing her are fully protected from any violence from hard-line Muslims in Pakistan.
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Demonstrators are also demanding the Australian Government ensures that the principle of ‘one law for all’ is maintained in their country. The preservation of the democratic nature of Australia as a nation and the condemnation of Islamic Sharia law for its imposition on the freedom and equality of adherents and non-Muslims, wherever Sharia is observed.
A letter with these aim is to be submitted to Parliamentarians based at Parliament House of New South Wales. The letter will also call for Australian Government to reconsider the $49 million dollars of aid given to Pakistan. With a desire that the aid be terminated unless Pakistan significantly improves its poor human rights record.
Australian Justice of the Peace, Michael Andjelkovic, said:
“This case demonstrates the cruelty, unequality and divisiveness of Blasphemy Law under islamic sharia law towards non muslims and is something that we do not want in Australia.”
During the protest Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, will lead a delegation to the Pakistan Consulate in Sydney, where a petition calling for freedom for Asia Bibi will be submitted. The electronic petition can be signed by(clicking here)
Wilson Chowdhry further said:
“Asia Bibi has suffered the ignominy of seven years of imprisonment on trumped up charges because her faith was offensive to Muslims.
“People of good conscience everywhere have demanded justice for Asia, moved by the plight of an innocent mother of five.
“Pakistan’s government have failed in their duty to Asia and the Christian minority amongst them as a whole, their failure has been a blight on Pakistan’s already tarnished reputation.
“Please pray that this appeal is expedited and that the judge is able to reach a rational verdict, based on evidence heard without any duress. “
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He added: “Major donors such as the UK and the USA are starting to use aid as leverage for better human rights, and as a major donor to Pakistan ($47 million), Australia can have a significant role to play.
“Australia’s official policy involves tackling poverty by generating sustainable growth and employment, as well as focusing on education and health, all worthy goals. Some of the poorest Pakistani citizens are Christians, and unfortunately they are typically kept there by a combination of debt-slavery and direct and systematic religious oppression, frequently including systematic sex slavery and targeting of Christian girls and women for kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage. Australia simply must use their aid budget to remove this social disparity.”
Asia Bibi is a Christian mum-of-two sentenced to death by hanging and currently on death row in a Pakistani prison. Her crime? She had been picking berries for paid work in the village of Itan Wali, Punjab, in June 2009. Then she offered water to a fellow human being after drinking at a rural well – without realizing followers of Christ were not allowed to relieve their thirst there, only Muslims. The harsh social norms of Pakistani culture means that Christians are ‘untouchables’ – the lowest. Many Muslims in the country believe, to put it crudely, that members of churches are akin to dogs. Christians are seen as a mat upon which you can wipe your feet.
Sounds harsh and unrealistic?
Asia Bibi’s story is a perfect example of the above ‘untouchable’ claims. She suddenly found herself in a heated discussion with local Muslim women who made fun of Christianity on that fateful day when she fetched water. Asia, defending her beliefs, asked: “Jesus died on the cross for us, but what has Mohammed done for you?” This simple statement caused a frenzy amongst her Muslim co-workers. They instantly called her pro-Christian comments ‘blasphemy’, although she had every right to discuss her faith under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of which Pakistan is a signatory).
The horrifying result was that Asia was brutally beaten and raped. Her two daughters, one with special needs, were also abused by the mob and some reports suggest sexual assault was involved. Her husband and five children are now in hiding while she waits to be executed. An appeal was refused in October 2014 and Asia is vulnerable to attacks inside the remote prison – even though a death sentence is still levied against her. In spite of all she faces, Asia has stayed true to her Christian faith.
— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) August 25, 2016
Pakistan’s Blasphemy law is an ever-present weapon of discrimination which looms over Christians in Pakistan. This is a law that we at the BPCA have constantly condemned because a significant reform, or abrogation, is desperately needed. As in the case of Asia Bibi, blasphemy charges are laid with flimsy evidence simply on the account of a Muslim witness against a non-Muslim (it is more complicated with Muslim-to-Muslim charges).
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Some 50 per cent of blasphemy charges are made against Muslims in blasphemy cases – and the other 50 per cent levied against non-Muslims who make up only five per cent of the population. These facts show the unbalanced hatred meted towards minority faiths. Christians makeup just 1.6 per cent of the overall population and yet 15 per cent of blasphemy charges are laid against followers of Christ. Recent figures indicate this percentage is set to grow.
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