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."
Check our featured links section for a link to the petition drive.