16 November 2010
Britain’s South Asian Christians lobby Cameron to stop execution of Pakistani woman
Asia Bibi, a mother of four, has been given the death sentence by a court in the Pakistan province of Punjab for allegedly insulting the main Prophet of Islam.
The alleged crime happened during a disagreement between Asia, 45, and her fellow workers at a farm in June last year. The court also issued Asia, an unskilled agricultural worker, a fine of £728 - a sum equivalent to two-and-a half years' salary.
Now the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) is collecting names on a petition that they will submit to Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street, at midday on Thursday 18 November. An hour later the group will deliver the same petition to the High Commission for Pakistan at 34-36 Lowndes Square, London.
Meanwhile the South Asian Forum, an arm of the Evangelical Alliance, is calling on all people, irrespective of their nationality or religion, to sign the electronic petition that is being coordinated by the BPCA.
Manoj Raithatha, National Co-ordinator for SAF said: "Allowing individuals the opportunity to practise their religious beliefs is not only a fundamental human right, but it also promotes peace, justice and stability in the global community."
The BPCA is calling on the UK Government to press its Pakistani counterpart President Asif Ali Zardari to exercise his delegated powers to seek a repeal of the death sentence of Asia. The BPCA is asking for a swift resolution as the date of the execution might take as little as two months after sentencing. They argue that the punishment is unjust and that judicial decision has been swayed by pressure from religious extremists. The BPCA considers Asia to be a prisoner ofconscience who has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression of her faith.
Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said: "Asia Bibi is being persecuted for her strong moral and religious beliefs. This is a consequence of the biased Blasphemy Law of Pakistan that is frequently being used to promote an agenda of terror on all minority faith groups as well as a means to settle personal vendettas. It is imperative that global humanitarian agencies and governments pressure the Pakistan government to adhere to the Human Rights Convention. If this doesn't happen, we could hear more cases like Asia's."
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