PAKISTAN – BOUNTY ISSUED BY MUSLIM CLERIC FOR AASIA BIBI

http://www.barnabasfund.org  A Muslim imam has offered a 500,000 rupee (US$5,800) reward to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi if the court fails to hang her. Aasia, a Pakistani Christian woman, was sentenced to death in November under Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy law” (see Prayer Focus Update, December 2010). She appealed to President Asif Zardari for clemency but the Lahore High Court subsequently blocked the government from pardoning her while the case is pending appeal in the courts. She will be executed only if the High Court upholds her sentence; no date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.

Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who is also a Christian, said the bounty is “immoral, unjust and irresponsible” and should be condemned in the ”strongest possible manner”.

In late November, a prominent government minster, Sherry Rehman, submitted a private member’s bill proposing amendments to the contentious blasphemy law, including a proposal that the death sentence be reduced to a 10-year imprisonment.

Such a move is highly likely to incur the wrath of many of the country’s Muslims. On December 8, a number of political and religious groups in Pakistan announced that a campaign to protect the blasphemy law would be launched and called for countrywide protests on December 24.

  • Please continue to pray that Aasia Bibi and her family will find comfort and support in the Lord at this extremely difficult time.
  • Pray especially for protection for Aasia, in light of the price that has now been put on her life. Since 1990 at least ten Pakistanis accused of blasphemy have been murdered while their cases were being considered; none was officially executed.
  • Pray that the government will abolish the blasphemy law and not give in to pressure from the country’s Muslim groups.
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