MEPs visit Pak­istan to sup­port Asia Bibi

The Church of England - - NEWS -

A DEL­E­GA­TION from the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has de­liv­ered a let­ter of sup­port to Ashiq Masih, the hus­band of Asia Bibi, the Chris­tian woman who was sen­tenced to death in 2010 for blas­phemy.

The MEPs from the Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists Group said that re­ports of Bibi’s ill health were not true, de­spite her be­ing moved into soli­tary con­fine­ment.

Both her hus­band and her lawyer told the MEPs, Peter van Dalen from the Nether­lands, Arne Ger­icke of Ger­many and Marek Jurek from Poland, that she was in good spir­its.

In July Pak­istan’s Supreme Court halted her ex­e­cu­tion and or­dered a re­view of her case, al­though she was later moved to Mul­tan prison.

“For mil­lions of peo­ple across the world, Asia is an ex­am­ple of au­then­tic and gen­uine Chris­tian faith,” the MEPs said.

They called upon Pak­istan to re­view its blas­phemy laws, stat­ing the vast ma­jor­ity of cases brought un­der the code had noth­ing to do with re­li­gion but were used by un­scrupu­lous mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity Mus­lim com­mu­nity to har­ness the power of the state to set­tle pri­vate dis­putes with re­li­gious mi­nori­ties.

In Oc­to­ber 2014 the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion re­leased a state­ment say­ing: “The most fun­da­men­tal crit­i­cism lev­elled against the laws is that the pun­ish­ment (death penalty) is dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the na­ture of the crime. How­ever, an­other ma­jor con­cern is that a con­sid­er­able num­ber of the blas­phemy cases are based on false claims.

“Cases are filed against Mus­lims, in the ma­jor­ity of cases, as well as non-Mus­lims as a way to set­tle per­sonal scores, or to stoke up sec­tar­ian and inter-faith ten­sions. Such mis­use seems to have risen sharply in the last decades.”

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