In vol 13 no 3, we reported the cruel murder of a Pakistani Christian housewife Razia Jamshed and her four children on the allegation that they had blasphemed the Islamic prophet. In the same edition, we also reported another story, also from Pakistan, of two Christian evangelists also accused of blasphemy, who were shot dead by Islamic zealots, even while in police custody.
The gravity of the situation with Asia Bibi, another Pakistani Christian now sentenced to death by hanging under the same blasphemy laws, can then be imagined. Despite pleas by Asia’s husband that she was framed up only to settle old scores, and a government’s panel of inquiry apparently exonerating her of any wrong doing, she apparently is receiving little sympathy from her blood-thirsty compatriots.
International pressure has been tremendous, requesting the government of Pakistan to overturn the verdict and amend the country’s blasphemy laws; but it would require nothing short of divine intervention to secure Asia’s release. This is because hard-line Islamic groups are threatening fire and brimstone if she is released. This is no idle threat. There have been large-scale riots and demonstrations demanding that the blasphemy law must not be touched (http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/12/anti-human-rights-riots-in-pakistan-during-nationwide-strike-to-uphold-blasphemy-law.html); and on January 4 no less a personality than the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was machine-gunned dead by one of his own moslem security details – for his asking pardon for Asia Bibi, and for his comments which were deemed unfavourable to the existing blasphemy law! (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12111831)
One of the hardliners is Maulana Yousef Qureshi. This supposed holy man of God is insisting that the illiterate mother of four, Asia, must be killed by all means. Just in case the government upturns the death verdict, Qureshi is offering $6,000 to any person who kills Asia Bibi. "We expect her to be hanged and if she is not hanged then we will ask mujahideen and Taliban to kill her" Qureshi boasted.
Bibi’s husband, 48-year-old Ashiq Masih, has gone into hiding, along with his children, sheltered inside a Christian colony.