Target: Muhammad Nawaz Shreef, Prime Minister in Charge for Law, Justice and Human Rights
Goal: Free woman sentenced to death for blasphemy
In a truly shocking case in Pakistan, a woman has spent four years in jail after being sentenced to death for blasphemy. Her crime was drinking a cup of water while believing in the wrong religion.
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian and mother of five children, was sentenced to death in 2009 for drinking from a well which was used by Muslim women. In a section of her book with French reporter Anne-Isabelle Tollet Blasphemy: A Memoir, reprinted in the New York Post, she wrote that her troubles began when she went out to pick falsa in a field for 250 rupees. She was given a larger bowl than her Muslim workmates, and after becoming exhausted she decided to drink from the nearby well. This caused other workers to accuse her of dirtying the water, and subsequently she was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and attacked when she tried to defend herself. After she refused a request by the local imam to atone by changing her religion, she was placed in jail.
The New York Post, in its reprint, further noted that “Embarrassed by Bibi’s case but still refusing to release her because of angry protests by extremists, the Pakistan government has transferred her to a remote prison, hoping the 42-year old dies quietly behind bars…already two government officials who have spoken out on her behalf have been murdered.”
The Pakistani government has an obligation to protect its religious minorities and stand up to fanatics who pervert Islam to justify discrimination. By signing this petition, you will demand Pakistan release Bibi from jail and take measures to ensure her safety.
Dear Mr. Shreef,
The case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman jailed and sentenced to death for blasphemy for drinking from a well has become a focus of international attention. As you know, Bibi’s case is both truly shocking and a clear example of religious discrimination in Pakistani society.
In a section of Blasphemy: A Memoir, a book written by Bibi and a French journalist reprinted by the New York Post in an August 25 article, she offered details into her arrest. After accepting a day job picking falsa in a field, where she was given a larger bowl to fill than her Muslim co-workers, she became exhausted and decided to drink from the nearby well. She was then subsequently accused of contaminating the water by drinking it and then insulting the Prophet Muhammad when she tried to defend herself. She was jailed and later sentenced to death after refusing a demand to atone by converting from her village’s imam.
Despite the Pakistani government recognizing the ridiculousness of someone being sentenced to death for drinking water while being the wrong religion, Bibi still lingers in jail. Sadly, this is because of pressure from extremists including the assassinations of two government officials who have supported her release. Pakistan has an obligation to protect its religious minorities and stand up to militants who abuse Islam to justify discrimination. Because of this, I ask that you ensure Asia Bibi’s release from prison and her protection.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: καρλο [ AKA Gilyo] via Flickr