9 years of imprisonment. 2009 was the year. Local women objecting to her drinking from the local village well. A dispute in which she boasted of her pride in her Saviour, somehow ended up in mobs descending upon her. Flogging her in front of her daughters. Police intervetion. Accusations of blasphemes against the prophet. An arrestation. Instant imprisonment.
9 years pass by. With no conditions placed upon the Pakistani government to release her, whilst continuing to pump millions in the name of Western aid. Without witholding such funding until her release. An incumbment Archbishop – prominent face of the Church of England – more interested in hosting the likes of Pakistan’s Shayk ur Rehman, avid supporter of the very blasphemy laws that imprison her, than rallying her cause and using his influence to lobby his government.
9 years of separation from Children and Husband. Abuse. Slow deterioration. Painful nostalgia. Hopelessness. The list surely goes on – what do I know of her plight? How could anyone begin to articulate 9 years of languishing in a prison cell, in Pakistan, as a minority and a Christian and a woman?
Years of appeals. Salman Taseer’s anti-Blasphemy stance and public solidarity with her. Taseer’s subsequent murder sending powerful, poignant warnings across the globe: that anyone willing to publically advocate for Asia Bibi would surely die. Pakistan’s only Christian Cabinet Minister Shabaz Bhatti – friend to Taseer, Bibi supporter and Blasphemy opposer, prophesised his own murder via a video link.
Years of posting Bibi’s appeal hearings, as Supreme Court Judges, battle with death threats and the awareness of increasing Islamist pressure to execute Bibi. Refusals to deal with her case, referrals to other judges. Further delays. 9 years pass.
On the 8th October 2018, Asia Bibi is to face her final appeal for her life. Should clemency or exoneration be denied by the Supreme Court, Pakistan’s Imran Khan is the last resort, through a possible pardon. Should this be denied, Bibi stands to be the first civilian in 70 years of history to be executed in the name of Blasphemy, forever changing the status-quo of how the state system can do away with its religious minorities. Blasphemy remains the single most salient and contentious issue in Pakistani domestic affairs, entrenched into the nation’s Penal Code. Manipulative. Corrupt. Draconian. Utilised to dispose of little inconveniences. Yet nobody has been executed by the state on its account.
Due to stand trial early afternoon. Bibi needs to go viral. Do what you feel led to, petitions, online lobbying, social media activity using the #AsiaBibi and #FreeAsiaBibi hashtags are a good start. Pray. Fast. Spread her situation amongst family and friends. Look her up. The very least we can do for Asia Bibi and her family is to aid her in faith, numbers and strength, to let the world know we see her, we know her, we love her. Not forgotten. Not forsaken.
The most powerful symbol of persecuted Christendom in modern times. A True Daughter of Faith.