Asia is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and her lawyers have launched an appeal. No one is known yet to actually have been executed through the courts, but in many instances where Christians have been accused of blasphemy they have been killed by Muslim mobs either in prison or after they were released. In fact, on November 19th, just days after Asia was sentenced, another Christian charged with blasphemy, 22-year-old Latif Masih, was shot to death by Muslim extremists after he was released on bail. Yet as we have often mentioned before, it has been well established that the blasphemy laws are used mostly, if not exclusively, to settle personal scores or harass and attack religious minorities.
Asia’s case has received international attention and condemnation from numerous sources, from Canadian politicians to the Pope. Canada’s Foreign Minister, for example, has issued a press release and a Member of Parliament made a statement in the House of Commons condemning the sentencing. Statements and condemnations are not enough. Asia must be released, all charges dropped and her safety assured, and the blasphemy laws must be repealed immediately. Our leaders must give this issue priority and put pressure on the Pakistani government until these things are done. The time has come for Pakistan to live up to basic international human rights standards. Nothing less will do. Please pray:
• for Asia, that she would continue to have courage, faith, and dignity in the face of such cruel injustice and that her strength in adversity would bring many to see and experience the Prince of Peace;
• for her family, that they would be safe and continue to be strong and courageous in their faith and support for Asia and in standing up for their beliefs as they come under fire, as well as for the family of Latif Masih, that they would be comforted as they mourn the loss of their loved one;
• for Pakistani Christians who face daily discrimination and threats, that they would remain strong, bold, and courageous in their faith;
• for Asia’s persecutors, that they would see and marvel at Asia’s strength and courage in the face of their attacks and be provoked, not to anger and hatred, but to curiosity and interest in finding and experiencing her source of dignity and strength; and,
• for the Pakistani officials, that they would see the injustice in this situation and move immediately to repeal the blasphemy laws and begin to promote and enforce respect for the human rights of all Pakistani citizens in accordance with international human rights standards.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to your Foreign Affairs Minister or Secretary of State, thanking them for any statements they have made condemning this outrage and urging them not to stop with simple statements, but to put pressure on the Pakistani government, including withholding aid and bilateral cooperation, until Asia is released and the blasphemy laws are repealed; and,
• to the Pakistani high commissioner or ambassador to your country, demanding that Asia be released immediately with all charges dropped and her safety ensured, and that the blasphemy laws be repealed immediately. Insist that the Pakistani government meet its obligations under international human rights law and respect the basic rights of all its people.
Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 992-5516; Fax: (613) 992-6802 Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca
Secretary Hillary Clinton U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) Webform: http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php?p_sid=F5OZZa6i&p_lva=&p_sp=&p_li