Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Aasiya Bibi, was the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. She was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to receive the death penalty in 2010. Last October, her final appeal was rejected by the High Court in Lahore. She has now been imprisoned for 5 years.
Aasiya was accused of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman. While the two women were working together, the Muslim woman had refused water from Noreen on the grounds that because it had been handled by a Christian it was unclean or haram, religiously forbidden for Muslims. Aasiya was urged to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Her response was perceived as an insult to Islam, for which she was accused of committing blasphemy.
Her attorney said that the nature of the quarrel had its source in the Hindu caste system (in which most Pakistani Christians are considered “untouchable”) rather than in a conflict between the Christian and Islamic faiths. Nevertheless, Aasiya was sentenced to death for blasphemy and remains in prison to this day.
Recently, it was reported that she had been rushed from the prison to the hospital. Although the nature of her illness was not disclosed, she has since been returned to the prison. Open Doors contacts in the region are reporting that her health is stable, but she remains frail.
Please pray for God to move in the hearts of those who govern in Pakistan; that true justice might prevail in overturning the courts’ decisions and Aasiya might be set free.
Father, we lift up Aasiya Bibi to you; that she might know your comfort, protection and presence in these dark times. Encourage her with Your Word that has been stored in her heart. Strengthen her faith when pressure is put on her to convert to Islam. Give her favor with the prison guards and among the other inmates; that they might see Christ in her and seek Your Word. May they turn in faith to Your gospel of redemption. And, we pray for true justice; that she might be set free to serve You among her family and neighbors. May her suffering not be in vain, but may it result in a massive turning to You in the nation of Pakistan. In the Name of Jesus, our Rock of Salvation, Amen.