A Story of Persecution in Pakistan- Asia Bibi Noreen
A mother of five sentenced to death on “blasphemy” charges has lived in constant fear since the killing of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, her husband said as he came out of Sheikhupura District Jail after meeting with her last week. Ashiq Masih said his wife, Asia Noreen (alternatively spelled Aaysa, and also called Asia Bibi), is “very afraid.”
Her conviction for insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, which she denies, triggered a violent chain of events in Pakistan, including the murder of Gov. Salman Taseer by his bodyguard after the governor voiced support for her. “She knows the Muslims have announced a prize on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” a visibly nervous Masih said. “The governor’s murder in broad daylight has put her in a state of paranoia.” He added that threats by Islamist extremists have dampened Noreen’s hope of getting justice from the Lahore High Court, where her appeal against the conviction has been filed but yet to be taken up.
Wearing a dark cloak to hide his identity, Masih was visibly nervous after meeting with her. Masih said prison authorities had improved Noreen’s security considerably after Gov. Salman Taseer’s killing, but prison officials have reportedly said she will be transferred to another prison soon because of security concerns. The female warden tasked with Noreen’s security the day Gov. Salman Taseer was killed shared the Christian woman’s reaction to the news. “We were passing by a barrack when the news broke out on TV that the governor was dead,” said the warden, who requested anonymity. “She stood there in shock for some time, and then she started screaming and crying.”