Asia Bibi To Spend Another Christmas in Seclusion. By Saadia Haq

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This enchanted time comes at the end of the year, when the magic of Christmas takes over Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, referred and revered as Jesus Son of Mary, the Messiah in Islamic tradition.

Yet this time things are bit strange inside Pakistan for its several million Christian faith community that are in unease to celebrate their religious holiday in the wake of Asia Bibi’s historic acquittal from Supreme Court this October.

After spending eight years on a death row, Asia Bibi became symbol for resistance and scrutiny of Pakistan’s problematic blasphemy laws that are allegedly misused to persecute vulnerable communities in this ignorant nation.

Before Muslim fly off the handle and indulge in name calling, let us take a moment to reflect the events that unfolded in the Asia Bibi case.

Despite her acquittal Bibi has been under state protection in a mysterious location and unable to leave Pakistan. Local and international campaigners have called on international support for providing Bibi asylum in the west but so far no concrete plans surfaced.

This betrayal of Asia Bibi not only at the hands of her own government but that of United Kingdom and several western states shows us the worldly indifference towards the deserving outrages and pains me beyond words can describe. Strangely, the Vatican hasn’t offered her asylum, but the Italian government had done so.

As a Muslim I am ashamed that religious factions and misguided fellow citizens took to roads baying in full angst for the murder of a minority Christian woman that’s been acquitted by country’s top court. Pakistan has a prevalent problem of perpetuating abuses against its own minority women hailing from other faiths and belief systems.

“These include kidnappings, forced conversions and systematic marriages to Muslim men, such events are a norm in rural areas of the country and not exactly unknown to law and order agencies.”

The bearded brigades that want to see Ms Bibi publicly executed have little understanding of the true principles of Islam and its laws. In backward nations like mine, religion is used as a power play to incite ignorant and illiterate communities against each other and this nonsensical farce has been going on for way too long.

This is Pakistan where many out of fear stand silent as vigilante mobs lynch minorities on pretext of blasphemy in broad day light. Lets not forget our terrible history of not protecting the blasphemy victims; non-Muslims or Muslims and therefore significant number of them are killed or have had to flee to other countries to save their lives.

Keeping in view the current situation, it seems Bibi’s fate is not uncertain and therefore she will spend another Christmas in confinement. It shames me to note that though released from prison, Bibi cannot attend the Christmas mass, cannot enjoy the Christmas lights and cannot have any holiday celebration.

This time round, its much more difficult for her and her family as they are under the radar. Frankly speaking, this so-called protection seems another imprisonment of a fellow citizen whose eight years of life were already lost inside prison for a crime she did not do.

While Canadian government has publicly announced their willingness to provide asylum to Bibi, I don’t understand what is the delay for?

On this Christmas, I will pray along all those who are supporting and praying for Asia Bibi’s safe release and departure from her country which has failed her completely.

May God have mercy on us all. Ameen.

 

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