Asia Bibi is a 45-year-old Christian woman who is behind bars in Pakistan, sentenced to death by hanging, having fallen foul of the blasphemy laws of that country.
What, exactly, was her ‘crime’? She had been working in the fields when she was asked to fetch drinking water. Some of the women she was with – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore ‘unclean’. In the ensuing row, the Muslim women asked Asia, “What has Jesus Christ ever done for you?” Asia replied by speaking of Jesus Christ as her saviour, and then asked the women, “What has Mohammad ever done for you?” It was this question (which, please note, was merely turning the question back on those who had asked it in the first place) which led to the conviction.
Although no-one has ever been executed under Pakistani blasphemy laws, a number have been murdered while on trial, while many others have spent months or years languishing in prison while their case is resolved. On top of that there is widespread bullying and victimisation of minority groups, including the country’s 3 million Christians.
Moderate Muslims will point out that the situation in Pakistan is exceptional, and unrepresentative of ‘true’ Islamic practice, which encourages tolerance and dialogue. They will also point out that extremists and fanatics can be found within the folds of other faiths, including Christianity (what about the murder perpetrated by Christian anti-abortion activists in America?).
But the sheer scale of Islamic aggression is of quite a different order. It’s not just Pakistan, but also Northern Nigeria, Indonesia, and other countries where Christians (and other minority groups) are being viciously persecuted. And the fact remains that Islamic law does sanction the death penalty for unrepentant blasphemers, whereas Jesus, by his teaching and example, taught his followers to love, forgive, and pray for their (and his) enemies.
The Telegraph, 12th December 2010
Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Unbelievable’ show has a discussion on issues related to this case