[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican Consultative Council has called for the case of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Roman Catholic woman who was convicted of blasphemy, to be re-investigated and for her to be “honourably acquitted.” Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after being accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed after a row which stemmed from her drinking water from a cup used by her Islamic co-workers.
Her case was raised at the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka. The Bishop of Sialkot, the Rt Revd Alwin Samuel, told members of ACC-16 that Asia Bibi was one of many victims of the Pakistan blasphemy laws. “We have been repeatedly proclaiming that we are one body; and we also say that if one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers,” he said.
A governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was killed by his own bodyguard because he called for a review of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws after visiting Asia Bibi in prison and declaring her to be innocent. The bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, was sentenced to death for the killing and executed last month, sparking riots from Muslim extremists demanding Bibi’s immediate execution.
Bibi’s case is due to be heard again by the country’s Supreme Court shortly.
In passing resolution 16.42, the members said that the ACC “stands in solidarity and prayer with Asia Bibi . . . and urges that her case be re-investigated and they she be honourably acquitted.” They also said that the council “stands in solidarity and prayer with other victims” of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
In a separate resolution, 16.41, the ACC reaffirmed a previous resolution on religious minorities in Pakistan and “expressed solidarity with all persecuted churches” in the country.
Asia Bibi’s family and supporters have launched an online petition, A Call For Mercy, calling for her release.