World Report

Asia Bibi lives in hope of ‘mercy’ and renewed legal appeal

A new request for a hearing in the case of Asia Bibi is to be presented to Pakistan’s Supreme Court at the end of March, supporters of the imprisoned Christian woman have revealed. 

The announcement came following an update on Mrs Bibi’s condition as she continues to languish in Multan prison, Punjab, where she has been held since her 2010 death sentence for blasphemy. She is reportedly held in an isolation wing of the prison, comprising four cells, three of which are currently empty.

The latest update was made possible after Mrs Bibi managed to send a message to her husband, Ashiq, requesting a visit. 

That meeting took place on March 6, with Ashfiq accompanied to Multan by Nadeem Joseph who is linked with the Renaissance Education Foundation of Lahore, a non-profit help group which is currently providing for the needs of the Bibi’s children and paying her legal fees.

Speaking later to Vatican Insider, Mr Joseph said: “Asia is doing fairly well. Her vision has dropped and she needs glasses.”

Mercy

Mr Joseph went on to describe a woman who remains strong in her Christian faith, and, like Christians everywhere, is marking Lent; this she does with the repeated prayer, “Lord, have mercy on me” as she spends time alone in her confinement – she has a Bible which she studies constantly – or in the periods of exercise she is granted outside her cell.

Central to Mrs Bibi’s visit, naturally enough, was the question of her repeatedly stalled appeal, now suspended twice by a judiciary apparently reluctant to be linked with a case that provokes the strongest emotions among Islamic fundamentalists. 

In this, Mr Joseph was able to report that “we will present by the end of March the request for a new hearing before the Supreme Court. We hope it will happen by April. Asia’s acquittal would be the best Easter gift”.

In preparation for the appeal, the Renaissance Education Foundation has begun fundraising towards the inevitable increase in legal bills if and when the hearing finally gets underway.

In addition, Mr Joseph said: “We ask for the uninterrupted prayer of the faithful and of all those who care about Asia Bibi’s case”, adding that “[Mrs Bibi] is convinced that the Lord will hear her prayer.”