As violence from Muslim rioters calling for the death of recently exonerated blasphemy victim Asia Bibi, an innocent mother of five who dared to drink from the same well as Muslims, brought the nation of Pakistan to a standstill, dozens of Pakistani Christians in the UK converged at St Mary’s Church, Islington, to pray for peace.
The riots stopped on Saturday 3rd November after Imran Khan capitulated to the demands of Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaaik and agreed to prevent Asia Bibi fleeing Pakistan by placing her on an exit control list. He also agreed to hear a petition challenging the verdict of Asia Bibi’s successful Supreme Court Appeal a move that is believed to be above the democratic authority of the Government of Pakistan, but is complicit with their controversial feudal machinations.
Those who want Asia Bibi dead include the very young!
The Candlelight vigil which was organised by Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, after the Government of Pakistan were forced to sign a contract and agreed to place Asia Bibi on an exit control list (ECL) and to hear a petition in the Supreme Court that challenged the verdict that would ultimately free Mrs Bibi.
Asia Bibi on 8th November 2010 was convicted of a blasphemy after she said while being beaten and provoked by her tormentors who abused Jesus Christ her God, the innocuous words, ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?’ She had already served time in prison after being taken into ‘safe custody’ on 15th June 2009 she was later told on the 19th of June that she was arrested on the grounds of a blasphemy on 19th June 2009, bringing her total sentence close to 9.5 years in solitary confinement despite what many media groups have stated.
Despite being beaten and raped Asia was the only person to have been arrested in the attack, and has endured brutal incarceration in a Pakistani prison where she became the most hated person in Pakistan. In 2011 two politicians Shahbaz Bhatti former Federal Minister of Minorities and Muslim former Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer were both assassinated for calling for Asia Bibi’s freedom and reform of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan.
Wilson Chowdhry, who led the peace vigil, said:
“News of Asia’s impending release caused elation amongst the millions of people of good conscience who have prayed and called for her freedom. When I first told my treasurer of her exoneration she burst into tears, such is the deep emotion groups like the BPCA entangle themselves in when they come to the aid of victims.
“Our tears of joy however were short-lived, only days later the rioting we predicted manifested across Pakistan, so incensed were the Muslim zealots that they began killing themselves as their fury spilled out of control and ravaged the country of Pakistan.
“Pakistan has traditionally caved in to the demands of extremists and attempts to reform the draconian, medieval blasphemy laws of Pakistan have collapsed under the pressure applied by groups like Tehreek-e-lebaaik, who brought the country to a standstill only a year ago, after a change to an oath for law-makers was un-islamicised and then under duress reverted to its original terminology.
“This most recent capitulation by Imran Khan’s regime is a historic capitulation. Never before has the Government of Pakistan gone above their authority and challenged a supreme court verdict.
“This supine cave in, has shattered the moral and confidence of the family of Asia Bibi, and has culminated in a lack of desire by western nations to help Asia Bibi with an offer of safe asylum.
“Britain’s vaunted and lauded position as a bastion for refuge for the oppressed has been battered by their ignoring of Asia Bibi’s plight. When Malala Yousafzai came to the UK the decision was swift, but with Rimsha Masih and now Asia Bibi both ignored by Britain – perhaps we as a nation are no longer open to Christian asylum seekers.
Asia Bibi’s husband has appealed to the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the UK and Prime Minister of Canada to help his family and their guardian’s family in a video sent to the BPCA:
Joining Wilson Chowdhry at the event were senior Pakistani leaders from across the country. Shaheen Zar, Chairman of Ilford Asian Church said;
“I had to support the event, Asia Bibi is innocent the most senior judges in the land have acquitted Asia Bibi, by what right can a Government challenge the authority of a verdict by the Supreme court?
Stephen Anjum, British Pakistani Christian Association representative in Birmingham and secretary of Overseas Christian Community, said:
“The captivity of Asia Bibi for close to ten years has been a horrendous travesty of justice, her youngest daughter was 9 years old when Asia was accused of blasphemy, who can replace the stolen years?
Dr Peter David, The first ever Pak-Christian GP who started practising in the 1960’s, said:
“Our sister has been resolute in her faith throughout her ordeal, she deserves her freedom and she deserves the support of people of good conscience all around the world, we must all fight against tyranny and oppression.
John Bosco, Anchor for MATV’s Gateway TV, said,
“We must challenge our governments to put aside fears of unrest in their countries and help Asia, it is evident she cannot remain in Pakistan.”
Hinna Pervez, who volunteers for Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need, said a prayer for Asia Bibi and her family and for a restoration of peace in Pakistan.
Hannah Chowdhry (24 yrs), a long term campaigner for Asia Bibi and volunteer for BPCA, said:
“I have prayed every day for Asia Bibi and her family and I believe that God will release them from their suffering in Pakistan. I have talked at Notre Dame University, London and Westminster Cathedral drumming up support for their family, so for me it is a real disappointment that our government is doing nothing to help her.”
On Monday morning no asylum had been offered to Asia Bibi the only reason BPCA can fathom for such delay when love for Asia Bibi is huge in western countries and hatred is immense in Islamic countries, can be attributed to fears for unrest in their own realms, with potential attacks to Embassies and civilians by extremists.
Yesterday Joseph Nadeem in a conversation with Wilson Chowdhry confirmed that a few countries offered Asia Bibi, her family and Joseph Nadeem her guardian and his family asylum, however Britain was not one of them. The family are in the process of accepting one offer but it is not too late for Britain and other countries to show their love and respect for this Asia Bibi’s bravery, by offering the same. Even if the politicians of Britain were not able to offer help the BPCA launched an appeal for asylum for the family that was circulated across the globe by the world’s media. In some sense, Britain has been able to contribute to her finally being offered an escape route from the hatred she faces in Pakistan, despite evidently being innocent.
Please sign our petition calling asylum for Asia Bibi (click here)
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