Pakistan – Mother Condemned for ‘Blasphemy’ Stunned, Shattered‏

SHEIKHUPURA, Pakistan (Compass Direct News) – The first woman to be sentenced to die in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming Islam’s prophet is shaken and aghast that she was never asked for a statement in her defense. In an interview with Compass at Sheikhupura District Jail, Asia Noreen said through tears and a shaking voice that she was heart-broken and shattered. The mother of two children and step-mother to three others turned to Compass and asked a question that no one has been able to answer for her. “How can an innocent person be accused, have a case in court after a false FIR [First Information Report], and then be given the death sentence, without even once taking into consideration what he or she has to say?” Arrested on June 19, 2009, Asia (alternatively spelled Aaysa) Noreen was accused of blaspheming Muhammad and defaming Islam. A judge under pressure from area Islamists convicted her under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy statutes on Nov. 8. “I don’t know why – when I walked into court that day, I just knew,” she said. “And when the judge announced my death sentence, I broke down crying and screaming. In the entire year that I have spent in this jail, I have not been asked even once for my statement in court. Not by the lawyers and not by the judge. After this, I have lost hope in any kind of justice being given to me.” Noreen said the triggering incident resulted from a “planned conspiracy” to “teach her a lesson” because villagers in Ittanwali, near Nankana Sahib about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Lahore, disliked her and her family. “They have been saying that I confessed to my crime, but the fact is that I said I was sorry for any word that I may have said during the argument that may have hurt their feelings,” she said. “What my village people have accused me of is a complete lie.”

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