The struggle of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, is testimony to the fact that how little effective or nil so called Muslim moderates in Islamic nations will be. Have we seen any demonstrations being held by Muslims anywhere in the world protesting against this kind of treatment to an innocent woman? No. Where is that outrage one usually sees when Muslims feel their religion is being unfairly targeted for criticism?
Initially there were reports of chance of Pakistan's president pardoning Asia Bibi, some even reported she was even pardoned ( read from here). But it looks like pardoning Asia Bibi, seemingly a simple task looked from outside Pakistan, is turning out to be additional challenge to many existing before the President. Pakistan's daily Dawn reports: (or one can read from here)
Around 250 people staged a demonstration in the central Pakistani city of Lahore on Wednesday, warning the president not to pardon a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting Islam.
They also denounced any attempt to change Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which critics say is often misused to persecute Christians like Aasia Bibi and other minorities. Her case has prompted outrage from human rights groups and a personal appeal from Pope Benedict XVI for her release.
But Islamic groups in Pakistan have pushed back and some have even threatened officials in the past who suggested reforming or repealing the blasphemy law. These groups have significant power since politicians from the major parties rely on them for votes.
”We are ready to sacrifice our life for the Prophet Muhammad,” chanted protesters in Lahore _ many of whom were students from Islamic seminaries in the city.
The rally was organized by the Movement for Protection of the Prophet’s Honor, a group of Sunni Muslims that was formed in 2001 to oppose changes in the blasphemy law.Islamic extremists in addition to opposing pardoning her also opposed repealing blasphemy law. Another report says:
Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threatened Wednesday to call for nationwide protests if the president pardons a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
"If the president pardons Asia Bibi, we will raise our voices across the country until he is forced to take his decision back," nationally known mufti Muneer Ur Rehman said.
Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a leading cleric in Lahore, said pardoning the woman would be "criminal negligence" and would cause inter-religious tension. (.This is a open threat against religious minorities.)If all this is disturbing, then the ground situation is disheartening. The life of Asia Bibi was in danger from the moment she was charged with blasphemy either from Government or Islamic extremists, who are abundant in Pakistan. Even of courts declare her innocent it is unlikely that she will lead a peaceful life. Just look at the two following incidents:
Case 1. Two Christian men were shot dead outside the court by Islamic extremists after they were declared innocent in the court. In fact when court declared them innocent, the whole place has seen Muslims on rampage. (read the full story from here or asian age)
Case 2. A man who was released on bail by court after being charged with blasphemy was shot dead inside his house. A police officer investigating this homicide case reportedly said, "Nu Muslim tolerates a man who commits blasphemous acts". If a law enforcement officer says such things, one can just imagine how secure the life of Asia Bibi will be. (read from indian express.)
Such is the difficulty faced by minorities in Pakistan. First it is very easy to use this law: all that is necessary for a Muslim is relentlessly abusing infidels religion before any infidel until he responds with similar question like Islam is also false or Mohammad is not a prophet; this is sufficient and this is what happened in Asia Bibi's case. The life of Non Muslims is very cheap in all Islamic countries, not just in this regard but even under sharia law. Lets hope that if she was pardoned she will be flown to some place by Pope or some Christian organization.