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2009-2019: Asia Bibi:
Her arrest in Pakistan for
blasphemy, over a few ounces of water:

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Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian and a mother of four or five children (sources differ). During 2009-JUN, she was in the fields near her home picking fruit. Other women, all Muslim, were there as well Each earned a fixed amount of money for each basket that they pick. However, being a Christian, Asia's basket was twice as large as the baskets that the Muslim women were given to fill.

Being thirsty, she went to a nearby well, filled its ladle with water, and drank part of it. Then, she offered it to another woman. A third woman complained that the water belonged only to Muslim women and that Asia, a Christian, had contaminated it. She allegedly then said some negative remarks about Islam. Someone shouted "Blasphemy." She was arrested by the police, placed in prison, tried for blasphemy and sentenced to be hanged.

Her family received death threats and fled from their home. Salman Taseer, the Muslim governor of the Punjab, came to her defense and was murdered by Salman Taseer -- one of his security guards. Taseer was found guilty and executed. A shrine was built for his body near Islamabad. It has since been visited by millions of Muslims. Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities also came to her defense, and was assassinated. 1

During 2018-OCT, Asia was acquitted by the Pakistani Supreme Court. The ruling refers to a universal and eternal covenant between the Prophet Muhammad and the Monks of Mount Sinai circa 630 CE. 4The covenant declared that Christians are allies of the Prophet. It equated their ill-treatment with violation of God's covenant. She remained in prison for her own protection. 2 Her acquittal triggered mob riots.

During 2018-NOV, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, said that his country was negotiating with Pakistan to grant her asylum in Canada.

During 2019-JAN, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court reviewed her acquittal and found no compelling reason to change it. 4

Asia has written a book:

book cover Asia Bibi (Author), Anne-Isabelle Tollet (Contributor), "Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water," Chicago Review Press (2013), Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Proceeds from the sale of this book support Asia Bibi and her family. Her book received 31 reviews, averaging about 2.3 stars out of a maximum of 5 stars. It is available in paperback and kindle format.

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2019-MAY-07: Asia left Pakistan and has arrived in Canada:

On MAY-08, Asia's lawyer, Saif-ul Malook, said that Asia had recently arrived in Canada and that her family has been reunited.

A friend of the family, Nadeem Bhatti, said:

"We had been told three or four times she was going to be leaving, but it never turned out. .... She is very happy to be here, but very tired. She is very glad to be reunited with her daughters."

The exact location of the family is being kept secret because of the many death threats she has received. 6

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted that her release was "fantastic news."

Sheema Kahn, writing for the Globe and Mail newspaper, said:

"Canadian Muslims can demonstrate the spirit of mercy and compassion that was the hallmark of the Prophet by offering support to Ms. Bibi and her family." 4

The Religion News Service article shows a photo of some leaders of a far-right Islamist political party in Pakistan. They are seated in front of a sign that says:

"Blasphemy is terrorism. Serve Justice. Hang Aasia." 6

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com," Amazon.com at: https://www.amazon.ca/
  2. Maham Abedi, "Who is Asia Bibi? Pakistani woman accused of blasphemy granted asylum in Canada," Global News, 2019-MAY-08, at: https://globalnews.ca/
  3. Kathy Gannon, "Pakistani woman Asia Bibi, acquitted of blasphemy, arrives in Canada," Canadian Press , 2019-MAY-08, at: https://globalnews.ca/
  4. Sheema Kahn, "Canada has helped Muslims thrive -- and we must extend the same welcome for Asia Bibi," Globe and Mail, 2009-MAY-08, at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  5. Gurpreet Singh, "Canada opens door to Asia Bibi while remaining silent over persecution of minorities in India," The Georgia Straight, 2019-MAY-08, at: https://www.straight.com/
  6. John Longhurst, "Asia Bibi happy to be in Canada..." Religion News Service, 2019-MAY-09, at: https://religionnews.com/
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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-MAY-09
Author: B.A. Robinson
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