Asia Bibi challenges Pakistan leader on blasphemy laws

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From Aleteia (the evangelising Catholic website supported by the papacy) 

Asia Bibi, who was on death row for years after being accused of besmirching the name of the founder of Islam, called the laws a “sword” in the hands of the Muslim majority against the country’s Christian minority.

Bibi, who has settled in Canada after finally being freed by Pakistan’s highest court, said the near-decade-long separation from her daughters while she was in prison constituted “psychological torture.”

She spoke on Tuesday during a Zoom presentation of Aid to the Church in Need’s biannual Religious Freedom in the World report.

Speaking from her home in Canada, Bibi addressed part of her remarks to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying, “Abolish the blasphemy law or prevent its abuse.” 

Bibi also asked “the international community” to “enforce the right to religious freedom.”

Several other Pakistani laws also discriminate against Christians, she argued, bringing up the case of several girls, aged 9 to 14, who were kidnapped, sexually abused, forced into marriage and forcibly converted to Islam.

“If Islam teaches peace and harmony, how can the violence carried out in the name of religion against Christian girls and women be justified?” she asked.

Bibi also named several women who, when they tried to bring up allegations of sexual abuse to the civil authorities, were then charged with blasphemy by their abusers.

“Women are attacked, the abuser is free to roam the streets, and women are imprisoned,” she said.

During the report’s presentation, Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN Italy, announced Bibi’s plans to visit Rome in the coming weeks. Bibi said she hopes to meet with Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “who have supported me and appealed for my release.”

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