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Aasia Bibi’s Family Prays for Her Freedom

by AFP
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Ben Stansall—AFP

Christian laborer on death row for alleged blasphemy faces execution if not granted reprieve by the Supreme Court of Pakistan

The family of Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother who faces becoming the first person to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, said they hoped the Supreme Court would free her. But in any case they feared for their future living in Pakistan under the blasphemy laws, they told AFP.

Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010, is at the center of the high-profile case that has divided Pakistan and drawn prayers from the Vatican.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard her last appeal and said it had reached a judgment, which it has yet to reveal. “We are hopeful that whatever the court proceedings are it will come out as positive for us,” said her husband Ashiq Masih.

Her daughter Eisham Ashiq added: “I will be very happy the day my mother will be released. I will hug her and will cry meeting her and will thank God that he has got her released.”

Bibi’s family is in London on a visit organized by Aid to the Church in Need, a charity which helps repressed and persecuted Christians.

Bibi, a laborer, was accused in 2009 of blasphemy against Islam’s Prophet by Muslim women she was working with in a field. The charge is punishable by death under legislation that rights groups say is routinely abused to settle personal vendettas.

Her family said that if Bibi were released, it would be difficult to stay in her homeland. “Pakistan is ours: we were born there, raised there,” Masih said. “The only tension we have is the blasphemy law. It is imposed on Christians. When it is imposed on us our [Muslim] brothers should think that the Christians never say anything bad about the Quran.

“Aasia Bibi, after her release, can’t stay there in the presence of this law. Living in Pakistan for us is very difficult. We don’t go out of our home and if we go, we come out very carefully.” Life in Pakistan “for us is very difficult.”

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