In the past days a renewed tension has manifested over the fate of a Pakistani women who has spent her last 8 years in prison on death row. All along she always maintained her innocence. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani wife and mother of five. She and her family were the only Christians in their village and her fellow workers repeatedly urged her to convert to Islam. But, who is she and how did her story start?
The trial stems from an argument Asia Bibi, whose full name is Asia Noreen, had with a group of women in June 2009. She was harvesting berries with a group of other farmhands. She was asked to fetch water from a nearby well and stopped to drink with an old metal cup she found near the well.
A Muslim neighbor angrily told her it was forbidden for a Christian to drink from a utensil used by Muslims. The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean. The woman condemned her faith and ridiculed her Lord.
Asia responded: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?”
However, prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.
She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation.
Five days later, she and her family were beaten by a mob, then she was arrested for blasphemy. In November 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. She was put in solitary confinement while her husband appealed her conviction. Her family was threatened with death and forced to flee their village.
Until Bibi and her family can leave Pakistan, their safety is in jeopardy. As is the safety of Pakistan’s 2.5 million Christians.