On November 8, 2010, a Christian mother of five was sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
While languishing in prison for the last four years, Aasiya Noreen, known as Asia Bibi, wrote her memoirs in a book called Blasphemy, where she tells of her ordeal and her years in prison. The book was dictated to her husband, who was helped in publishing the book by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet.
The book is set to be published September 1, with a Kindle edition already available. Proceeds from the book will be used to support Bibi’s family, who have been forced into hiding.
Bibi was targeted by Muslim women in her village and pressured several times to convert to Islam. When she refused, the village provoked a confrontation. When she brought water to a woman who had requested it from her, the woman made statements accompanied by insults that Muslims could not drink water that was provided by non-Muslims. Bibi replied by questioning the women as to whether all people are not human beings. That question caused an uproar in the village.
Not long after, a mob of village Muslims led by a local cleric attacked Bibi. She was saved by police who took her to the station and charged her with blasphemy on the basis of a complaint lodged by the cleric. Bibi was put on trial and sentenced to death by hanging.
Bibi is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. No one is known yet to actually have been executed by the courts, but in many instances where Christians have been accused of blasphemy, they have been killed by Muslim mobs either in prison or after they have been released.
In addition, two members of the government who have voiced their opinion in support of Bibi have been killed. One included Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who was shot by the Taliban.
Just days after Bibi was sentenced, another Christian charged with blasphemy was shot to death by Muslim extremists after he was released on bail.
Bibi's case, which has been appealed by her lawyers, has received international attention and condemnations from many sources including the Pope. Canada's Foreign Minister has issued a press release and a member of the UK Parliament has made a statement in the House of Commons condemning the sentence.
Although the Pakistani government is embarrassed by the case, they refuse to set her free and have transferred her to a remote prison in the hope that she will languish there or perhaps be poisoned by another inmate.
To buy Asia Bibi's book click here.