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Still smiling after five years in jail: Pakistan's Asia Bibi

Christian woman's blasphemy case remains unheard in court

<p>Picture: Vatican Insider/La Stampa</p>

Picture: Vatican Insider/La Stampa

  • Paolo Affatato for Vatican Insider/La Stampa
  • Pakistan
  • July 9, 2014
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Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was unfairly sentenced to death for committing blasphemy is in good health and has not lost her faith in God, despite being locked up for over five years. Amazingly, this believer is a happy woman despite her suffering. The new date set for the start of her appeal process is 9 September 2014. Hopefully this time her case will finally be heard in court.

Vatican Insider has learnt that a few days ago, a delegation of Asia’s relatives and members of the “Renaissance Education Foundation” (the institute that is providing assistance to Asia’s family and is ensuring her children get an education )paid a visit to the women’s prison in Multan where the woman is being held. The reports about her allegedly worsening health are apparently false. “Thanks heaven the Lord is keeping her in good health. Asia is well and her faith in Christ makes her a happy woman, even in prison,” the director of the “Renaissance Education Foundation”, Joseph Nadeem, told Vatican Insider after the visit.

The relatives that visited her were: Asia’s husband, Ashiq, her two children, her daughter-in-law and Nadeem. They brought her some summer clothes, shoes and some of her personal belongings, some food and some generic drugs, just in case. This small family gathering was filled with smiles, tears, hugs and hopes.

The group was also informed that Asia’s next hearing would be held on 9 September, straight after the summer holidays. Her lawyers are hoping to finally get court proceedings going and are anxious to do everything they can to prove Asia’s innocence. Unfortunately one of the lawyers has had an accident and it will take some weeks before they recover. But the team had enough time to present a request to have Asia transferred to a prison in Lahore, capital of the Punjab province where her family lives. The 14-hour car journey to Multan is cumbersome and extremely costly.

There is one man who has taken a special, though understandably discreet, interest in Asia’s case: Khalil Tahir Sindhu, the Punjab province’s Catholic minister for human rights and minorities. In the past, Sindhu, who is also a lawyer, defended many Christians who fell victim to the unjust blasphemy law. Other lawyers who are not part of Asia’s official defense team are trying to pass themselves off as her defenders for their own benefit and to enhance their reputation. This, Nadeem said, “is wrong. It means they want to exploit poor Asia’s case for their own personal gain.” This happens in Pakistan when legal cases gain international importance, attracting potential donors from all around the world.

Full Story: Pakistan: Asia Bibi is “happy”, even in prison

Source: Vatican Insider/La Stampa

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