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ReligionChristianityAsia Bibi appeals to Pakistani Prime Minister to help free Christian girls...

Asia Bibi appeals to Pakistani Prime Minister to help free Christian girls kidnapped for forced marriages

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(Photo: ACN)Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi spent a decade on death row in Pakistan after being falsely accused of blasphemy before being freed by a court ruling.

Now she is urging the country’s prime minister to campaign for the release of Christian girls kidnapped and forced into Islamic marriage.

https://web.archive.org/web/20221206130446/https://acn-canada.org/asia-bibi-please-help-our-girls/

The Christian mother spoke recently to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), highlighting the plight of underage Christian girls abducted and forced to convert to Islam before being married against their will.

“I know that these girls are being persecuted, and I appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan; please help our young girls, because none of them should have to suffer like this,” said Bibi,

She was commenting on the kidnapping of Christian girls Huma Younus and Maira Shahbaz.

From Madina, Punjab, Maria Shahbaz was abducted at gunpoint in April and is now in hiding having escaped her captor.

Huma Younus was also 14 when she was taken from her home in Karachi last October. She remains with her captor.

FOUNDING FREEDOM PROCLOMATION 

Bibi noted, “At the moment of Pakistan’s founding and its separation from India, our founder Ali Jinnah, in his opening proclamation, guaranteed freedom of religion and thought to all citizens.

“But today there are some groups who are using the existing laws, and so I appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan – especially for the victims of the blasphemy laws and the girls who have been forcibly converted – to safeguard and protect the minorities, who are also Pakistani citizens.”

Defiling the Quran and making derogatory remarks against Mohammed are crimes punishable with life imprisonment and the death penalty.

And in daily life, these laws are frequently used to persecute the religious minorities, says ACN.

Bibi herself, a mother of five children, was imprisoned on death row, falsely accused of this offense, for almost 10 years, from 2009 until October 2018, when Pakistan’s Supreme Court finally quashed her case on appeal.

She later fled to Canada before claiming asylum in France, Premier Christian News reported.

Between 1967 to 2014, more than 1,300 people were accused of the crime of blasphemy.

“As a victim myself, I am speaking from my own experience,” said Bibi. “I suffered terribly and lived through so many difficulties.”

Now, she said, was the time for urgent reform so that religious minorities might enjoy the same protections under the law.

“Pakistan is not just about minorities or majorities,” she explained. “Pakistan is for all Pakistani citizens, so therefore the religious minorities should also have the same rights of citizenship, and the law in Pakistan says that everyone should be able to live in freedom – and so this freedom must be guaranteed and respected.”

Nasir Saeed wrote in The Daily Times, a newspaper based in Lahore in March, “Religious intolerance and hatred against religious minorities in Pakistan have been rife for several decades, and yet, it is hardly ever recognized and addressed by the government.

“This obliviousness and negligent lack of action has caused severe damage to the fabric of Pakistani society and threatens to continue if it is not challenged,

“Though discrimination based on religion at a governmental level started in the early days of Pakistan, Pakistani society was far more tolerant compared to modern times. Pakistan’s political system and government policies continue to contribute to the promotion of religious intolerance and hatred against religious minorities.”

More than 96 percent of Pakistan’s population of some 233 million people are Muslims, most of them Sunnis, and the rest of the population are mainly Hindus and Christians.

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