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Did Pakistan Supreme Court come to the rescue of Blasphemy Law victim Asia Bibi?

Asia Bibi was brutally beaten after drinking water from a well, which was specifically for the use of Muslims in the highly discriminatory nation- Pakistan

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Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi. Wikimedia
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August 26, 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.

Asia Bibi was brutally beaten after drinking water from a well, which was specifically for the use of Muslims in the highly discriminatory nation- Pakistan. Her mistake was to offer water from the same well to Muslim co-workers who started to beat Asia, whilst cursing her and her faith. Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus her Lord, so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten to her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has now been incarcerated since June 2009 and has been sentenced to death since November 2010.

Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus (her Lord), so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten at her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has been incarcerated since June 2009 followed by a death sentence, that was announced in November 2010.

After a failed appeal to the Lahore High Court on October 16, 2014, many thought freedom was beyond Asia Bibi. However, in a pre-trial hearing at Pakistan’s supreme court on July 22, 2015; the court has suspended her death sentence and permitted an appeal. In her appeal, Asia will ask the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case, which included poor investigation and manipulation of pieces of evidence by the local police.

The appeal was originally meant to take place on March 26, 2016. However, after the judiciary and Government of Pakistan decided to push through with the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri under anti-terrorism laws, they were forced to postpone Asia Bibi’s appeal hearing.

Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated Salmaan Taseer, a former Governor of Punjab for his stance of calling for the abrogation of draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan and freedom for Asia Bibi. In the wake of Qadri’s death- a wave of protests included 100,000 Muslims, who gathered outside the Government buildings in Islamabad and demanded the termination of proposed reforms of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and death sentence for Asia Bibi. The government caved in on the reforms which had passed through Parliament and were to be ratified by the Senate of Pakistan. Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.

Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.

However, news of the revised date for the appeal hearing has induced mixed feelings. Many Pakistani Christians believe the date will be postponed again when the Muslim protests for Asia Bibi’s death reassume. They still recall the 5 postponements before Asia Bibi had her Lahore High Court Appeal rejected.

Moreover, despite their joy and delight that Asia Bibi will have her day in court and a chance for justice, they fear that a community backlash will result in attacks on the innocent Christian communities across the country. Despite their fear, every Pakistani Christian stands with Asia Bibi and is praying for her release!

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:

“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.”

He added:

“Freedom for Asia Bibi would be a watershed moment in the campaign for justice and freedom for minorities. Previous governments have failed miserably, but I believe the incumbent Government is genuinely attempting to return the balance. I hope that effective protection is provided to Asia and her family, the judiciary and all persons that could make this latest appeal a success. Any half-hearted approach will undermine Asia’s trial and create a blight on Pakistan’s reputation.”

BPCA believes there will be a large mob of Muslims baying for the blood of Asia Bibi outside the courts. We are calling on the Government to ensure that the known ring-leaders are rounded up and prosecuted under the countries incitement to hatred laws.

If these extremist elements are allowed to foment violence against any innocent people, then it is the government and security forces that should be implicated for their failure to provide adequate protection. This case will create schism and polarization among a population that has been inculcated with hatred, through a biased national curriculum. We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.

We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.

BPCA continue their appeal to support the Asia Bibi and her family. If you would like to donate towards our appeal please (click here). 

Please sign and share our petition (click here)

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu, Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created a lots of controversy

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyed due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu ? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read : Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the  bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into open ground. And third, when bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena are called vadi vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also say that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules varies from region to region.

Also Read : Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lots of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court stuck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.