Freedom songs for Asia Bibi in front of Pakistani High Commission London
15 Jun 2012
London: June 15, 2012. (BPCA) Electro-pop band ooberfuse, with the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), took to the streets yesterday to protest against the unjust and inhumane treatment of Asia Bibi,
mother of five, who awaits execution by hanging on Pakistan’s death row. Under Section 295c of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s penal code Bibi stands accused of blasphemy for refusing to convert to Islam in the face of violent pressures to recant her faith.
To mark the 14th June 2012, the third anniversary of Bibi’s arrest, a powerful pa system was set up opposite the Pakistani Embassy. As a delegation entered the Embassy to meet the High Commissioner’s appointee, Mr Raheel Tariq, protesters led by Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA chanted ‘Free, free, Asia Bibi’. Once inside the delegation, including Mr Nazim Ghauri OBE of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, Stephen Anjum representing UK Pakistani Christians (who have fled their native Pakistan to avoid persecution) and Cherrie Anderson, front woman of ooberfuse, presented two petitions calling for Bibi’s release and a copy of Asia’s autobiography Blasphemy recently translated into English. As they said farewell to Mr Tariq on the Embassy steps the crowd sang along to ooberfuse’s freedom song Free Asia Bibi - A copy of which can be downloaded for free here:
Cherrie, front-woman of the band says, “It was very generous of the High Commissioner to allow us to share our concerns with his representative Mr Tariq. We explained how the Blasphemy Law was being used in practice to discriminate against not just Christian minorities but also, as Mr Ghauri pointed out, Ahmadiyya Muslims too. Mr Tariq showed sympathy towards our concerns but insisted that Pakistan’s constitution can only be reformed from pressures within democratic Pakistan. We explained that Asia’s voice, speaking in her autobiography, is a voice that speaks from within Pakistan. The point of our demonstration was to make her voice more audible through music and public readings from her memoirs in the hope that changes will be made soon and Asia will be reunited with her family.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, adds : “I was very encouraged to see Embassy staff and crowds of Muslims (who were queuing for visas) listening attentively to the guest speakers and the music. Clearly our mix of music and remonstrations delivered a poignant message. It was obvious that many people of Pakistani origin had not heard of Asia Bibi. Many of the passers-by showed a genuine interest and surprise that these injustices were continuing in a country that is keen to defend, if not to white-wash, its human rights record.’”
John Pontifex says : "Now is the time to stand up for faith and freedom. By speaking up for Asia Bibi, it is not only a case of joining one woman's campaign for justice, it is standing in solidarity with all those under the shadow of mob violence and religious hatred. Hal St John and Ooberfuse are to be congratulated for following the Holy Father's call that hatred should 'never reign in the hearts of men again'.