Demonstrations in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and other parts of the country. Chanting the slogan #HangAsia, they demand the Christian woman and mother of five be executed. The anger and frustration of Christians entrusted to social networks. Pakistan "does not guarantee security and justice for minorities".
Lahore (AsiaNews) - Sunni Muslim groups have coordinated mass demonstrations across Pakistan, chanting slogans and displaying signs that read "#HangAsia". Their protests were sparked by the Supreme Court decision to postpone the decision on the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman, a mother of five, sentenced to death for blasphemy, and still waiting for the judgement in her final appeal.
Hundreds of members and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah have gathered this week in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore to protest against the woman, now in prison for six years on charges of violating the "Black law".
It will be a war if accursed Asia escapes. We are united to guard the honor of Rasool Allah, we are His servants. Was Pakistan formed to hang the lovers and spare blasphemers. Why is Asia Bibi not hanged even after death sentence by Lahore High Court and Supreme Court. The government will pay if it acts on foreign agenda and betrays us”, Mukhtar, donning a white turban, told AsiaNews.
He is one of many protesters who took to the streets in Lahore, outside the offices of the Press Club, in defense of the blasphemy laws and for the hanging of the Christian woman.
Meanwhile, a high ranking Punjab judge has offered to become part of the appeals panel and sya he would confirm the death penalty issued in the first instance by the High Court of Lahore. "I have long studied the case - the Assistant Attorney General Chaudhry Ahmad Zubair Farooq said yesterday - and overwhelming evidence and testimonies have emerged against the defendant".
Msgr. Shukardin Samson, bishop of the diocese of Hyderabad (in Sindh province), explains that the Punjab government alone cannot affect the conviction of Asia Bibi. And it is the competence of the Supreme Court, he said, to decide "whether to listen or not" to the opinion of the prosecutor. The problem, said the prelate, "is that there are extremist groups who are paying great attention to a story that has taken on international significance."
Meanwhile, many Christians and members of activist groups have vented their frustration on social networks: Benjamín Yousaf, Executive Director of NGO Dignity First, in defense of the Christian, wrote on Facebook that "the judges seemed unprepared" in spite of 15 months had for study the case. Similary Timna Khan adds that "even the jury knows she is innocent, but they cannot judge because the mullahs who hold the law hostage”. He adds: "Pakistan has failed in the task of ensuring security and justice for minorities".
A firm condemnation of the protests of the Islamic extremist groups was expressed by Muhammad Tahseen, a Muslim and leader of a forum that includes more than 50 associations and movements in defense of human rights: "The case against Asia Bibi is wrong and the blasphemy laws should be removed from the Constitution" of the country, he concluded.
The final appeal was set to be heard today in Islamabad, after having been postponed from 2014. A judge refused to show up, perhaps out of fear. She is accused of blasphemy, but has always denied any wrongdoing. She has been in prison since 2009. Muslims call for a "quick hanging".
After almost five years of captivity, the son of the former governor – killed for his opposition to Islamic extremism – was released. Now he is in a safe place with his family. “Perhaps this release is a sign of the times, mature enough for a necessary change of course strongly advocated by Pakistan’s civil society,” said a Justice and Peace official. For a human rights activist, “authorities seem to be on the right path, but they have a long way to go”.