Asia Noreen, a Pakistani Christian woman, wife, and mother, became the face of injustice in 2009. She and her husband, along with their five children, lived a nondescript life in a small, rural village outside of Lahore, a populated city in Pakistan.
However, all this changed back in June of 2009, when Asia got into an argument with co-workers, whilst harvesting berries in the field where she worked. She was asked to get some water from a nearby well, and to quench her thirst in the extreme heat, took a sip of water for herself. A neighbor saw this, and told Asia that she had contaminated the water, because she was the only Christian in the village.
Asia Bibi has spent almost a decade behind bars, based on scant witness statements forged amongst a feudal community whipped into an emotional frenzy over the perceived insult of their beloved prophet.
Tensions were already running high in the village because of a previous feud over property, but this made matters much worse. Heated words flew back and forth. Five days later, Asia was beaten by a mob, and then arrested on charges of blasphemy. Her accusers claimed she had insulted the Prophet Mohammed (SAW), and demanded that she be handed the death penalty. Asia Bibi has spent almost a decade behind bars, based on scant witness statements forged amongst a feudal community whipped into an emotional frenzy over the perceived insult of their beloved prophet. After her conviction, she was, in fact, sentenced to death in 2010. In October 2018, however, she was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, based on a lack of evidence. The three judges involved used Quranic text to justify overturning the unjust penalty, citing a lack of evidence.
Undoubtably, the Supreme Court of Pakistan showed incredible tolerance, and reasonable judgement in the overturning of this case. Unfortunately, there were many who not only didn’t agree with the overturning of the verdict, but were out for Asia’s blood. In fact, all minorities in Pakistan became a target.
There are so many things wrong with this situation and what has come from it. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan. ISLAMIC. The clerics of this country seem set-out to destroy all humanity in this country. According to the Quran, there is no compulsion in Islam. Yet the people in Asia’s village were hell-bent on converting her to Islam. We, as Muslims, believe that people of the Christian faith are our brothers and sisters. They are people of the Book. So why is such hate encouraged in an Islamic country towards the Christian brothers and sisters who reside there, who are born there, and who are raised there? Does this hatred sound like the manifestation of the man we hold so near and dear to our hearts, Prophet Mohammed (SAW)? Is this how we believe he would react under the same circumstances? I think the answer to that is a resounding, “NO”.
In present-day Pakistan, the positive outcome of Asia’s case is something that all minorities are now paying the price for.
Nevertheless, because of the overturning of Asia’s conviction, clerics have taken to shouting their disapproval through the loudspeakers of their mosques, instigating people to keep on the look-out for others who commit blasphemy, and to punish them for it. They have incited riots all over Pakistan, riots which have unfortunately zeroed-in on all minorities living in Pakistan. Being an Ahmadi-Muslim myself, I know what it’s like to be a minority. Though I’m fortunate enough to live in the U.S., other Ahmadi Muslims are in constant turmoil whilst living in Pakistan. In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadi-Muslims to be non-Muslims. Since then, Ahmadi-Muslims have lived under the shadow of this judgement. In present-day Pakistan, the positive outcome of Asia’s case is something that all minorities are now paying the price for.
Because there is absolutely no way that Asia and her family could continue living in Pakistan, they have begged for asylum outside of Pakistan, appealing to countries far and wide. The latest news is that Canada is in talks with the government of Pakistan to negotiate an asylum deal. Perhaps Asia Bibi will be able to escape the people who want her, and her family dead. But why must it come to this? Religious cherry-picking is a specialty when it comes to the corrupted clerics. The word they are spreading is NOT one of peace, but of hatred, and destruction of people who don’t abide by their twisted interpretation of the rules. They have come to play God, and make the decision to wipe out ideals that don’t adhere to “their” Islam.
Whatever religion anyone follows, humanity is the base of it all. If people choose to ignore this, and allow hate to take over their hearts and minds, then mankind is doomed. I know that for every hateful person out there, there is a kind and tolerant person waiting to rectify a troubled situation. If this wasn’t the case, there would be no way that Asia and her family could have escaped. And I thank God for those good people.