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Falsely accused of blasphemy, Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi now in Canada


A Christian church in Nathiagali, Pakistan, a resort area in the country. Credit: Khalid Mir/Flickr/Creative Commons

According to Wilson Chawdhry who works with the British Pakistani Christian Association, Asia Bibi, the Christian woman in Pakistan accused of blasphemy, is safely out of the country and is now in Canada with her daughters.

Chawdhry said he received a text message from a British diplomat that Bibi was safely in Canada and this has since been confirmed by officials in the Pakistani government and Bibi’s lawyer.

In 2009, Asia, who worked a fruit picker, was accused by Muslims of using a tin cup to drink water out of well and by doing so contaminated the cup for other Muslims. This was quickly followed by a blasphemy charge by a neighbor whose family was in conflict with Bibi’s family over land.

With a population of over 213 million people, the country is officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with Islam designated the state religion. Over 96% of the population is Muslim with Christians sitting at around 1.5%.

Many Pakistani Muslim’s typically trump up these type of accusations when in fights with Christians, legal or otherwise. In Pakistan, accusations of blasphemy can result in the death penalty and Asia has been in jail since her accusation in 2009 with many years sitting on death row.

During blasphemy trials in Pakistan, the person making the accusation are not even allowed to repeat it for fear of being guilty of blasphemy. So local courts typically take the accusers word for it. During the initial court proceeding, Asia was told she would be acquitted of the charge if she became Muslim.

Though the lower courts found her guilty, Pakistan’s Supreme Court eventually cleared Asia of the accusations and suspected the Muslim accusing her of blasphemy was lying because of the other unrelated issue.

After Supreme Court released Asia, Muslim extremists started protests across the country demanding the government reverse the decision and sentence Asia to death. In some areas of the country they were even doing door to door searches looking for Asia after her release.

The threat on Asia’s life was very real because in 2011, moderate Muslim governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own body guards after publicly stating Muslim blasphemy laws were not only being misused in Asia’s case but other court cases involving Christian as well.

Since it was no longer safe for Asia to remain in the country efforts were underway to find a safe country for her to go to and she eventually ended up in Canada, where her daughters were already living.

Because of her notoriety, Asia apparently wore a fully Muslim burka so she wouldn’t be identified as she slipped out of the country.

However, according to an article in the English newspaper, The Guardian, Bibi’s life may not be entirely secure in Canada as Islamic extremists have vowed to track her down in Canada. Not surprisingly, Canadian authorities are not providing any information on where Bibi and her family will be settling.

Speaking of the end times, Jesus warned there would be times people would be dragged before the courts and we would need to flee because of persecution:

17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next (Matthew 10:18-23a ESV)

Sources:

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