Seven years ago in Pakistan, was imprisoned Christian Asia Bibi is only because she defended her faith. One time the woman even threatened the death penalty for harsh law on blasphemy. Today the family lives of Asia in Lahore? So is there a chance that soon their mother will be released?
It’s been more than 2.5 thousand days since, as Hicham Bibi or her sister Isha the last time you went shopping or cooking with his mother, Asiya. They still hope to one day return to a normal family life.
“I have a strong faith. I believe that very soon my mother will be released from prison,” says Hicham Bibi, the daughter of Asia Bibi.
The sisters and their father, ashiq masih, in 2011, tried to lead a normal life, but this time, their wife and mother Asia Bibi was sitting in a solitary prison cell. She was threatened with death by hanging on charges of blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad. They then thought that in 2016 will still wait for the family reunion. Ashik says that while these seven years was hard, he still believes in the liberation of his wife: “I believe that soon it will be released. I really hope in prayer,” he says.
Yes, it can hope to prayers and petitions, like the one which was signed by almost 700 thousand people from all over the world. However, Asia remains in prison and her husband Ashik feared for her life.
“She’s in danger, because many Islamic organizations and clerics still need to be hanged,” he says.
Being in a small prison cell in the Pakistani city of Multan, Asia Bibi prepares their own food, fearing that radical Islamists will attempt to poison her. She also cleans his cell, once again not to contact with prison staff. The Hicham and Isha visit Asia regularly, but can’t reach through the narrow opening of the prison bars, to hug or even touch her mother.
“My mom’s faith in God remains strong. Two months ago, when I saw her, she was quite healthy. Mom told me that we should pray. And I told her to pray and she. For us, prayer is very important,” says Hicham Bibi.
Islamic extremists also threaten the family, forcing constantly to change their place of residence. Because of this, girls are hard to communicate with people and to maintain long-term relationship.
“It’s very hard moving from place to place. They are bad for our lives,” says Asiya, the daughter Hicham.
So far, all attempts to secure the release of Asia were slipping. About a year ago, the highest court of the country has questioned the testimony given against her, and overturned the death sentence. The court ordered a re-investigation, but further action was deferred. The reason was the arrest and execution by hanging of killer Mumtaz Qadri. This radical Islamist shot the Governor of Punjab province Salman Tasir, which visit Asia in prison, called for the repeal of Pakistan’s law on blasphemy. The Islamists have filled the streets after the authorities finally executed Kadri in accordance with the laws of the country on the fight against terrorism.
“Across the country, a wave of protests. A huge camp appeared near the government buildings in Islamabad. People refused to leave as long as the government does not cancel all of the proposed reforms and changes in the laws of Pakistan on blasphemy. They have also called for the immediate execution of the death sentence, that is, the murder of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death,” says Wilson Chaudhry, who heads the British Association of Pakistani Christians.
Pakistani lawyer and expert, Joseph Francis said that the country is very easy to accuse someone of blasphemy. And such cases every year becomes all the more after the September 11 attacks. “In Pakistan there is no justice, the court is very biased,” he says.
“The court is either biased against the Christian minority in the country, or intimidated by extremists, says Chaudhry. — I think there is no such a brave man who would free Asia Bibi. Which judge dares to say “Ashiya, you can be free”, knowing that for him it would be tantamount to a death sentence?”
What about amendments to the law on blasphemy? What are the chances of its adoption?
“None of the previous governments of Pakistan could not change the law. I don’t believe it will make the current government. Except that some other government in the future,” says Joseph Francis.
Meanwhile, more Christians such as Asia Bibi will face false accusations of blasphemy and the prospect of ending up in prison. And more daughters like Isha and Hicham, will grow up without the tender embrace of the mother.
“I pray constantly that God saved my mother out of prison to rejoin our family, and she healed a peaceful life, says Hicham Bibi. — Please continue to pray for me, my family and my mom, that God will help us to build our family life!”