Update 15 November 2018.
Scottish church leaders have signed an open letter requesting that the UK Government offers asylum to Asia Bibi and her family ‘in recognition of the United Kingdom’s continuing commitment to freedom of religion and belief’.
The letter states ‘We stand with the Christian community in Pakistan and request that the UK Government takes action to protect minority faith communities and ensure justice for all.’
It is signed by:
- Rt Revd Susan Brown, Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
- The Most Revd Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
- The Most Revd Mark Strange Primus, Scottish Episcopal Church
- Ms Adwoa Bittle, Clerk of the General Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
- Mr John P Cross, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland
- Revd Dr David P Easton, Chair of the Synod of the Methodist Church in Scotland
- Revd Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland
For more details see the Church of Scotland website.
Prayers requested for Asia Bibi as acquittal to be challenged
Asia Bibi’s family have asked for prayers after being forced to remain in Pakistan while Imran Khan’s Government demand that the Supreme Court hears a petition challenging Asia Bibi’s acquittal, says the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).
Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA, has commented:
“Asia Bibi has been reunited with family during a tearful reunion. Their joy is however tempered with fear as they await a decision from the petition to the Supreme Court challenging her acquittal.
“I don’t believe any Supreme Court judge could deny the authority of that decision when there is no right of appeal to any person or entity, and should be summarily dismissed.
“However, the fact Asia Bibi’s case is fraught with controversy and political machinations will no doubt play a factor.
“So we must urge people to pray that the chosen judges be bold in their desire to uphold the rule of law over the socio-political factors that could cause a travesty of justice.”
For more details see the BPCA website.
A petition for Asia Bibi and the whole of her family to be given asylum in the UK or another western nation has been initiated by the BPCA.
The petition will be delivered electronically to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Theresea May, Prime Minister of the UK; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minster of Canada; Donald Trump, President of the USA and counterparts in other nations. It will also be emailed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.
This comes as a challenge is being made against Asia Bibi’s acquittal in Pakistan.
“It’s untenable that Asia Bibi could remain in Pakistan”, commented Wilson Chowdhry talking to BBC News.
You can sign the petition to grant Asia Bibi and her family asylum on the ipetitions website.
Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT)
Responding to the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian held for 8 years under sentence of death on a charge of blasphemy in Pakistan, the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) has commented that ‘Asia Bibi is free but religious minorities continue to suffer violence, discrimination and abuse in Pakistan’.
Christians and other minorities suffer violence at the hands of extremists, says JPIT:
‘They have had their places of worship set on fire and their villages ransacked. Unfortunately, even against this backdrop, a raft of recent government policies and legislation (for example over compulsory study of the Quran in schools) is placing additional restrictions on religious minorities.
‘The existence of the death penalty for blasphemy supports a culture of impunity around violence or threats of violence.’
For more details see the JPIT website.
Church of Scotland statement
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has welcomed the court ruling overturning the death sentence of Asia Bibi.
Rt Rev Susan Brown urged the authorities in Pakistan to now ensure the safety and security of Asia Bibi who was convicted in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy in a row about a bucket of water.
The Church of Scotland has spoken out against the misuse of the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan for a number of years and recently wrote to the Foreign Secretary about Asia Bibi’s case.
See the Church of Scotland’s website for further details.
Catholic Church in England and Wales
A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference said:
“We give thanks that justice has been served and Asia Bibi has been freed so she is finally able to rejoin her family.
“People across the world have been praying for her release over these years that she has been imprisoned and these prayers have been answered. May our Lord bless and protect Asia and her family. We now pray for peace for all in Pakistan, particularly those Christians and other minorities under threat from extremists.”