I learned more today about the verdict of the District Court of Sheikhupura in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. On Nov 8, Asia Bibi, a 45-year old farm worker, mother of five children, was sentenced to death after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed, a charge she denies, claiming instead that she is being persecuted by certain locals for her being a Christian.
According to reports, Asia Bibi had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women who were Muslim, when she was asked to fetch drinking water. Some of the Muslim women refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian woman and was therefore "dirty and unclean."
I have to say that when I traveled in Pakistan I heard many stories of persecution of religious minorities. One couple I met had been in hiding for over two years due to threats on their lives. Another man who was wearing a cross was beaten up on a bus and accused of blasphemy. The accusation of blasphemy is very serious, as the Bibi case shows. Activists in Pakistan are urging the repeal of the blasphemy statutes because they are abused by individuals who may have ulterior motives for bringing charges, making religious minorities particularly vulnerable.
A UN expert on human rights and other activists are mounting a campaign to save Bibi's life. When I have details of what you can do to help, I will post them.