[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, has increased the pressure on Pakistan over their continued detention of Asia Bibi under the country’s much criticized blasphemy laws, by writing to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia, Naela Chohan, and Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, about the case.
Last month, members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Lusaka, called for a fresh investigation into her case, leading to her “honorable acquittal.” Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, after being accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed after she shared a drinking vessel with her Islamic colleagues.
“It is clear that a disgraceful application of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, 295c, has brought tragedy and shame upon [Asia Bibi] and indeed the beautiful nation of Pakistan,” Freier later wrote on his blog, in an article republished by ACNS.
In his letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister, he asks Bishop to pursue justice and mercy for Asia Bibi and for the protection of the Christian minority in Pakistan. In his letter to the High Commissioner for Pakistan to Australia, he has asked that Pakistan re-open Asia Bibi’s case and acquit her, and also work to protect Christians in Pakistan, who go constantly in fear of their lives and property.
“I wrote to Ms Chohan that Pakistan and Australia share interests and values, including the priority of justice with mercy,” Freier said. “The treatment of Asia Bibi fails this fundamental test of our shared humanity, and her continued imprisonment brings shame.”
- Asia Bibi’s family and supporters have launched an online petition, A Call For Mercy, calling for her release.