Over 60,000 in Spain call for release of Asia Bibi

Representatives of HazteOir.org, a civil rights organization in Spain, have delivered a petition calling for the release of a Christian woman in Pakistan.

Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of four, was convicted of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad and sentenced to death by hanging in the town of Sheikhupura, near the capital city, Lahore.

Bibi has said she is being persecuted for defending her faith to Muslim co-workers who claimed that Christianity was a "false religion." She was jailed days later, brought to trial and convicted for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.

Over 60,000 Spaniards signed the petition that was delivered to the country's Pakistani embassy in Madrid on Dec. 2.  It calls on Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to issue a pardon for Bibi.

“The government of Pakistan is taking note of the growing international pressure surrounding this case, but it is still not enough.”

The Lahore High Court, which has jurisdiction over the case, ruled Dec. 1, that President Zardari cannot issue a pardon while the case is under appeal. The president is disputing that decision.

Ignacio Arsuaga, president of HazteOir.org, said Bibi’s case is a question of religious freedom.  “This has nothing to do with being Catholic Christians, Buddhists or Muslims.  This is about defending freedom of belief from the power of special interests or government officials,” he said.

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