01/07/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Lahore: death threats for Asia Bibi's lawyer and human rights activists

by Jibran Khan
Her lawyer has completed the request for appeal, but no specific details are provided in order to preserve their safety. Islamic extremist groups and leaders ready to target those fighting for her release. From Masihi Foundation thanks for the words of Pope Benedict XVI, a source of encouragement.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - Asia Bibi's lawyer and activists of the Masihi Foundation (MF), fighting for the freedom of the 45 year old Christian mother of five children, condemned to death for blasphemy, have received death threats. In recent days the legal team has prepared the application for appeal to be presented to the court, but specific details are not provided to safeguard the safety of the woman - in solitary confinement in Sheikpura prison (Punjab) - and the team committed to obtain her release. For some time now, in fact, a leading Islamic extremist group has put a bounty on Asia Bibi which also affects those taking her defence. Last year, the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti Catholics were murdered precisely because they have demanded the release of Christian women and called for a revision of the infamous "Black Law".

The activists of the Mf of Lahore are asking "all people of good will," Christians and Muslims alike, to defend Asia Bibi because she is "innocent". They also point out that since 1986, when the rules on blasphemy were promulgated, the largest number of victims have been registered within the Muslim majority. Lawyers explain that the Asia Bibi case is a "misinterpretation" of the law and clarify that there are no positions "against" the community or faithful, but only the desire to save the lives of "innocent" people and respect ultimate good, human life. We respect Islam, they add, the Prophet Muhammad and all religions and "we hope that the case turns into a 'bridge' and a not a 'barrier' between Christians and Muslims."

S.K. Chaudry, Asia Bibi's lawyer, confirmed that the team of lawyers has prepared the application for appeal to the High Court, but also adds that "the primary objective" is the "protection" of the woman and her family. He also adds that he harbours "confidence" in Pakistan's legal system and that her innocence will be proven.

The leaders of the Masihi Foundation want to thank those working on the case, with dedication and commitment. A special thought, they add, should be addressed to Pope Benedict XVI who prays for the "human dignity and basic rights of each individual." The pope's words, they conclude, are a source of encouragement and an invitation to "full respect" for human dignity.
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