In 2009, a Pakistani Christian named Asia Bibi took a small sip of water. Her Muslim colleagues saw her, and immediately notified authorities. They believed that because she was Christian, her sip contaminated the water. They accused her of insulting Mohammed. And the means she had committed “blasphemy” and was deserving of death. Barbaric? Yes, but true. On Wednesday, October 31, a Pakistani judge released her from the death penalty and let her go.
“I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent.” Asia’s husband Ashiq Masih
Human Rights activists have sought her release for the last 9 years. No other Pakistani Christian has endured that many years in prison under the 295-C blasphemy law. Plea after plea for signatures and financial donations went out by the ACLJ on her behalf. She is a wife and mother, which seemed to mean nothing to the Pakistan court. She was to be killed. She was an infidel. She spent those nine years with the threat of death at any moment.
Calls have one out for Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws. Thus far it has not been accomplished.
But even being released from prison may not save her. The radical Islamists want her dead. In the past, people who have been released from custody were murdered. This time Asia and her family were moved to an undisclosed location and are expected to move to another country soon.
Other prisoners freed on blasphemy charges have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Muslim radicals assassinated former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Shabbaz Bhatti in 2011. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law.
“Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace,” Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News. “These charges have been proven false time and again and it is time for her to return home to her family.”
Asia’s ordeal did not sway her Christian faith. In 2016, she said this from her prison cell:
“I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness…I do not hate those who did me wrong.”