UPDATE October 14, 2016
The Supreme Court of Pakistan was scheduled to hear Asia’s case yesterday, October 13, 2016. However the hearing was delayed when one of the judges recused himself due to, it appears, a conflict of interest. Hundreds were gathered to protest if she was released. They did not set a new trial date.
UPDATE January 19, 2016
Asia Bibi, mother of five who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan under the blasphemy law, says she has forgiven her captors. She was recently quoted as saying
Christmas is the celebration of God’s mercy. I forgive my persecutors, those who have falsely accused me, and I await their forgiveness. . . . Jesus made this happy day for me and has accepted my prayers. . . . But, although I have been in prison for seven years, I do not hate those who did me wrong. . . . I pray that Jesus Christ will grant peace to the whole world.
Please continue to pray for her as she awaits her final appeal to the Supreme Court of Iran.
UPDATE August 1, 2015
Last month Asia’s case was accepted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. They agreed to hear her appeal, but a date has not been set yet. They have temporarily suspended her death sentence pending appeal. Please pray as this process moves forward. They will be looking at failures in due process, such as the original court failed to allow Asia to present her story, and the original report was submitted a week after the alleged incident. The court reversed a previous sentence because the original report was made 48 hours after the event. According to Pakistani law, it is supposed to be registered immediately.
Militants have placed a bounty on Asia’s head, and threaten to kill her if the court doesn’t.
Source: Rach’s Thoughts
UPDATE December 2, 2014
A legal situation in Pakistan has arisen that may have an impact on Asia’s case. In October, her appeal was denied. According to Open Doors:
“The appeals judges now explain they had no choice because of the way Pakistan’s laws are written, and they have turned to lawmakers to create legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve. No such test was in place when Noreen was tried.
The High Court’s legal reasoning and proposed legislation intended to close the loophole through which it says Noreen has fallen, was not available on October 16. In Pakistan, blasphemy against Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, is a crime punishable by death, though a death sentence for blasphemy has never been carried out.
That glitch, Saqi said, involves a legal principle found in Islamic law called tazkiya al shuhood, which requires accusers to meet strict standards of Islamic piety. This precedent came into play when Noreen’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, embarked on an unconventional legal strategy, attempting to subject his Christian client to Islamic law rather than Pakistan’s secular laws.”
Please continue to pray for Asia (also known as Noreen) as well as the courts and government of Pakistan.
Source: Open Doors
UPDATE November 3, 2014
Nearly 2,000 Islamic clerics gathered outside of Asia’s court hearing on October 16 in an attempt to pressure the judges against overturning her verdict. A bounty has been placed on her head of a half million rupees (about $5,000). Two government officials have been assassinated after speaking up on her behalf. Her attorneys plan to file another appeal with the Supreme Court, but it will likely result in more years of waiting. She was originally incarcerated in 2009 and is currently on death row, along with 16 other Christians convicted of “blasphemy.”
UPDATE October 22, 2014
You can sign a petition requesting that Pakistan free Asia.
Read Asia’s description of the event here. She has been sentenced to hanging for “speaking against the Prophet” by the Pakistani courts.
UPDATE October 16, 2014
Asia Bibi lost her appeal when a Pakistani court decided today to uphold the death penalty for making “derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.” She is the first woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Her lawyers plan to take the case to the Supreme Court. She has been in prison since 2010.
You can read her story in the book Blasphemy.
Please pray for her and her family!
Sources: BBC News Asia
Father, I’m so disappointed in the outcome of this hearing. We’ve been waiting such a long time and to have the ruling upheld is crushing. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for Asia and her family. I ask You to pour out Your presence on each of them. Encourage them, strengthen them, strongly support each of them, and provide for all their needs. I pray for Asia as she looks ahead to hundreds of more days in prison. I ask You to raise up advocates for her from within Pakistan as well as the international community. Protect those who defend her, as we know of two public officials who have already been assassinated for speaking on her behalf. I pray for the people of Pakistan, Father. Give them wisdom, courage, and lead them in the way they should go. Pour out Your love and mercy upon this country, and let Your kingdom come to that beautiful land that You love.
UPDATE October 16, 2014
Asia’s court hearing set for September 9, 2014, was postponed, making it the fifth postponement. The request came from her husband, Ashiq Masih. He asked for the delay because his personal attorney was not there, although Asia’s lawyers were present. A new hearing was set for today, October 16, 2014. The judge said this is the final hearing date and no more delays would be permitted. Please pray for her immediate release.
UPDATE June 23, 2014
Asia’s appeal has been delayed for the fifth time, and her hearing has been delayed for the fourth time. She remains in prison, in solitary confinement “for her own good,” and is given raw materials to cook her own food so she “won’t be poisoned.” Please continue to pray for Asia as she is in frail health.
Sources: Open Doors
July 3, 2013
Asia was moved to a prison 5 hours away from her home on June 6, 2013. She has been very sick and in a lot of pain. Her husband has been a big source of encouragement for her, and now he will not be able to visit her as frequently due to the large distance he must travel. Please continue to pray for strength, endurance, and the presence of the Lord in her captivity.
Father, Asia has been in prison for over 4 years now. She has 5 children who need her desperately. You have heard their prayers. You have seen their troubles. Please work in the hearts of her captors, and through Pakistan’s legal system, and secure her release. Remember her young daughters. Remember her special needs daughter. Be a mother to them in her absence, but please Lord, secure her release. Encourage her with the strength of Your presence. Support her with Your joy. Be all in all of her, Lord, so that she might bear with patience the gross injustice that is done to her. In a new prison she no longer has the support of jailers that care for her. Develop new friendships for her in her new place. Show her the joy that is coming to her so that, just as Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before him, she also may endure her imprisonment because of the joy that is set before her. Strengthen her family. Thank you for her strongly supportive husband, Father. Fill him with your peace, and give him the faith he needs to move any mountain in his path. Bring him all the support he needs to run this race with endurance. We are nothing without You. Be everything to Asia and her family, and bring them through this wilderness triumphantly. Do this for the glory of Your name. Amen
January 7, 2013
Asia’s family has published a book telling of her ordeal. Proceeds from the book go to her family (who are in hiding) and help with her defense funds.
December 13, 2012
Ashiq Masih and his 19 year old daughter, Sidra, visited Spain to petition the government there to help free Asia and grant her asylum. He spoke to junior foreign minister Gonzalo de Benito in Madrid. The visit was organized by Hazte Oir, a Spanish Roman Catholic group. According to Ignacio Arsuaga, the foreign minister indicated that, “it is quite prepared to grant asylum as soon as Asia Bibi herself requests it,” and that they are always willing to help in her defense. Ashiq said, “We are very happy and have great faith that this country will help free my wife.” Asia is currently in prison, awaiting an appeal of her death sentence for blasphemy. The family was forced into hiding after receiving numerous death threats.
“She is protected in prison and they are treating her well, but she is having a hard time because she is very far from her family and is suffering psychologically,” Ashiq said. “We live in hiding in Pakistan and we are very afraid. They say we have blasphemed… and that they are going to kill us.” (Daily Times – Pakistan)
Information Source: Church in Chains
Help free Asia Bibi!
More than 150,000 Pakistanis have signed a petition requesting the release of Asia Bibi, in prison and sentenced to death for blasphemy for stating that “Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins”. Voice of the Martyrs is attempting to collect 1,000,000 signatures to the petition for her release. You can sign the petition here. Let all your friends know about A Call for Mercy.
Asia’s daughters and husband went into hiding this summer. They are praying earnestly for her release. Stand along side of them in prayer and support for her release, as well as the release of Shamim Bibi, and other political and religious prisoners in Pakistan.
Asia Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009, on blasphemy charges. The 37 year old mother of 5 was working on the farm of Muhammad Idrees. Some of the Muslim women were telling her about their faith, and when they finished, she told them of her Christian beliefs. When she told of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, she said that Jesus is alive, but Muhammad is dead. The women attacked her, and began to beat her, then she was taken by some men and locked in a room. The local mosque announced over the loud speaker that her face would be blackened and she would be paraded through the streets of town on a donkey. Local Christians contacted the police, who took her into custody before this could happen. (There are only 3 Christian families in Asia’s village of 1,500 families.)
Christians lobbied on behalf of Asia, asking the police not to file charges against her, but they claimed they were under pressure from local Muslims. Nineteen months later she was convicted of breaking Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law 295–blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad–and was sentenced to death. So far, no Christian has ever been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy, but some have been killed by angry extremists upon their release.
Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, visited her in January (2012) and again in March. In January she appeared happy, and filled with thanksgiving and joy. She said, “I am very thankful for this visit. I am happy and fine. I am praying every day. I am strong in my faith. I know that this is the test of my faith, and I know to make gold, it must be purified in the fire. I am strong in my faith, and I know that God will release me. I pray that God forgives the people who blamed me.”
When Ashiq visited her in March, she expressed discouragement regarding her release, but as he was telling her about how her daughters were doing in school, he felt God’s presence and heard Him say, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”
Asia’s family has gone into hiding in fear of their lives. Human rights workers in the country are afraid to provide updates on her situation, believing that will bring more harm to her and her family. The country has already seen the murder of two of its high ranking government officials due to their criticism of the blasphemy law and their support of Asia–Salman Taseer, the Governor of the Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minorities Minister. Asia has come to represent the thousands of people in prison for their religious convictions. Pray for her, her family, and the country of Pakistan. She knows the world is working hard for her release.
- Sign the petition to free Asia
- Encourage your senators and representatives to support all congressional legislation regarding Freedom of Religion here and around the world.
- Let your friends know about Asia, and encourage them to pray.
- Pray for Asia, her family, friends, and neighbors.
- Pray for God’s intervention on her behalf, that she will soon be safely released.
- Pray for the salvation of those who accused her, and who are holding her.
- Write to Asia:
Letter Writing Guidelines:
DON’T mention the source of your information or name any organizations. Letters from individual people are acceptable, but prisoners may receive harsher treatment and longer sentences if it appears they are connected with an “international organization”. This is why families sometimes don’t want their loved ones listed by name. Also, please don’t say anything negative about her country, its laws, or its practices. Focus the letter on encouraging Asia, strengthening her with quotes from the Bible, and your prayers.
Sources: Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors.
Photograph is a picture distributed by Asia’s family, and is a Google public domain image.
You are Asia’s father and you are there, right now, with her in her prison cell. I thank you for her joyful spirit, and her faith and trust in you. I can’t even imagine what she is going through, having been incarcerated for almost 3 years. Strengthen her, Father. Support her daughters. Encourage her husband. I join together with her in asking that You forgive those that sent her there, and I pray that she will be a shining, golden light to everyone around her. I pray that not a single day of prison time will pass without a rich blessing for Asia. I pray that You, the Lord God Almighty, who does as He chooses with the nations of the earth, will intervene on her behalf. Release her from prison at the most perfect time, reveal Yourself to her fellow prisoners and her jailors, and let the district jail become a sanctuary for Your Spirit. Let her light so shine in that dark place, that every one around her will want what she has, will turn to You, and be saved! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they released her because her light was too bright? Thank you for the work you are doing in that “forsaken” spot in the world, because you haven’t forsaken it. In Jesus’ loving name, Amen.