Many of you have been praying for Asia Noreen or “Bibi.” Her name has appeared in different forms and perhaps you have wondered if there is more than one case before the courts! As with many languages, transliteration from Urdu is not consistent; hence our research has revealed that there is no proper spelling for Asia. Most Western media have used Asia, but one of our sources favors Aaysa. Her last name is Noreen and “Bibi” means “Mrs.” in Pakistan. We hope this information clears up any confusion.
Unfortunately, Asia’s future is not so easily sorted through. A Christian, she was arrested in 2009 following a petty argument she had with fellow field workers who protested that as an infidel, she had contaminated their container of drinking water by touching it. Asia “Bibi” argued with the women, but then dismissed the incident and went on with her normal role as a wife and mother. A few days later a group of Muslims reportedly dragged her away accusing her of blasphemy against the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
Asia denies these accusations, but has not been even asked officially for her statement of what happened. “How can an innocent person be accused, have a case in court after a false FIR [First Information Report], and then be given the death sentence, without even once taking into consideration what he or she has to say?” she inquired of a Compass Direct News reporter. There is no good answer.
Her conviction and sentencing of death by hanging have been a point of global controversy. Last week’s rumors that she was being released in the wake of appeals from religious leaders and human rights groups have turned out to be premature. The Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif has now ruled that the government may not grant a pardon to Asia since, “the case was pending in courts,” and asked the provincial and federal governments to present details of the case on December 6.
Asia is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. If she is executed, it is feared that it could set a precedent in Pakistan and across the Muslim world. Though she tries to console her distraught daughters, one of whom is mentally disabled, said that they have been heart-broken and shattered since the conviction. Her husband, Masih, immediately tried to console her. “Everything will be just fine, you just have to stay steadfast in your faith,” Masih told her. “All of us are here beside you. Everyone is praying for you.”
Father, we lift before You Asia “Bibi” who faces an uncertain future. We ask that You bring about justice on her behalf, encourage her faith and protect her from hopelessness. We pray, too, for her family; that they will live in peace and praise You with joyful hearts. And, through these trials, we pray that Pakistani citizens may see the light of Your truth and grace – ultimately bringing salvation for those who do not yet know You.
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