While most of us are making last minute Christmas purchases, Christians in Pakistan are hoping for a peaceful rally on Christmas day. As I note in this column on Christian Post today, the situation there is tense.
Without leaving her jail cell in the Punjab province of Pakistan, Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who has been sentenced to death by a regional court for allegedly blaspheming Muhammad, will be at the center of a tense Christmas weekend. Over a year and half ago, Ms. Bibi was involved in a dispute with Muslim neighbors who accused her of violating laws forbidding negative speech about Muhammad. Even though she denied the charges, she has been jailed since then and her plight has brought international attention to Pakistan’s laws regulating religious speech. The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have called for Bibi’s release.
I spoke yesterday morning with Raza Anjum, the British public official who is in Lahore to try to win Bibi’s release. He described a very tense situation and I am concerned that the situation could erupt. With Islamic groups calling for a strike, and the death of Bibi in the days before the Christian groups march on Christmas day, the security situation is very tense.
“There have been a lot of protests going on by extremist groups because they are trying to politicize the issue and distorting the actual facts and the truth behind this case. They’ve been protesting quite regularly, last week we had about three protests,” he explained.As the Christmas holiday approaches, Mr. Anjum hopes his efforts can secure safety and justice for Asia Bibi. He plans to visit with her in jail on Christmas Day.
If you have not done so, go sign the petition in support of Asia Bibi. If you have signed, please send the link to some friends and give Asia and the religious minorities in Pakistan a Christmas present of your time.