Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, LifeSite News

A Pakistani Christian woman is facing death following a conviction under the nation’s Blasphemy Law, after she defended her  faith against a group of Muslims who insulted her for her Christian beliefs.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old farmworker and mother of three, was working in the fields of her small town of Itan Wali in the Punjab region of Pakistan in 2009 when her hand touched the water that the workers were to drink.  The Muslim women working with her then refused to drink the water, saying that it had been contaminated by the touch of a Christian.  Some reports indicate that the group had been pressuring Asia to abandon Christianity for some time.
In the argument that followed, Asia reportedly defended her faith, although there are two versions of the exact nature of her statements. The Muslim women claim that she insulted Mohammed, claiming that he had died “with worms in his mouth.”  However, Asia’s defenders say that she never made any insults, but rather defended her faith in Christ, affirming that he had died for the sins of mankind and risen from the dead, while Mohammed had not.
After the women complained to a local imam, Quari Salim, the cleric filed charges against Asia for “blasphemy,” and she was sent to prison to face trial.  Fifteen months later, on November 7, she was sentenced to hang for her “crime,” and to pay a fine equivalent to two-and-a half years’ salary for an unskilled worker.
A group of townspeople in Itan Wali told CNN that they all support the death sentence against Asia, and Quari told the news agency that her death sentence was “one of the happiest moments of his life,” according to the interviewer.
“Tears of joy poured from my eyes,” said the imam during the videotaped interview.
However, not all Pakistani Muslims agree with that assessment. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer told Asia News in an interview that he regards Asia Bibi’s death sentence as “a disgraceful episode. It is an embarrassment for Pakistan,” and he assured the agency that the appeals process would reverse the sentence.

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