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July 26, 2011

Believers Chorus a Cry For Mercy on Behalf of a Christian in Pakistan

Last week we were very happy to share with you that The Voice of the Martyrs has launched an online petition drive to support Asia Bibi.  Our good friends at Mission Network News have written about this newest petition, and we wanted to share with you what they are saying.  Click here to sign the Call for Mercy petition today.

Pakistan (MNN) ― A global petition drive is underway to see a Pakistani woman freed.

For two years, Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian persecution watchdog group, has been following the case of Asia Bibi--a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.  

VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton says last week, they unveiled a campaign on Bibi's behalf. It was a response to a grassroots movement. "The genesis of this actually came from Christians in Pakistan. They collected 150,000 signatures inside Pakistan--people who were willing to say ‘We need justice for Asia Bibi. We need justice for Christians in our country.'"

Entitled "Call for Mercy," Nettleton describes the purpose. "We are trying to collect a million signatures of people who will say, ‘Listen. We ask for our sister Asia Bibi to be released from prison. We ask for her to be restored to her husband and her daughters and allowed to continue her life.'"  

What good will signatures do in a high-profile case like this? Due to tense relations between Pakistan and the U.S. right now, government pressure might not be effective. However, a grassroots movement is likely to get some attention. Nettleton says, "We are going to deliver these names to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC,"  adding that "we are encouraging some of our contacts around the world to work through the Pakistani embassy in their particular country so that we sort of create the understanding that people around the world are watching this case."

Bibi's case began in 2009 when she was involved in an intense discussion with co-workers about their faith. The Muslim women told her about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Bibi responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive: "Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins.... Our Christ is alive."

Bibi was arrested in connection with this incident, charged and convicted under Pakistan's blasphemy law which prohibits citizens from criticizing Islam, the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, or the Quran. Although the United Nations passed a resolution that protects individuals from blasphemy laws, it seems to have had little effect.

Bibi appealed her conviction to the country's highest court. "We don't know when they will rule, when they will hear that case and it will move forward. In the meantime, she's still in jail. She's separated from her husband, from her daughters, and waiting for the High Court to rule. It's now been more than two years."

The Voice of the Martyrs has supported Bibi and her family since the time of her arrest. The petition drive is a chorus of voices working in harmony in the name of Christ. "We're simply speaking on behalf of a Christian sister, and we don't like the fact that she has been sentenced to die simply for speaking out about her Christian faith. We encourage the Pakistani government to release her and allow her to go free."