Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Canadian Parliament Urges Release of Asia Bibi Sentenced to Death in Pakistan for Blasphemy

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

AJAX, ONTARIO (ANS) -- The leader of the Central Council of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) has praised a resolution from the Canadian Parliament urging the Pakistani Government to release Asia Bibi.

Asia Bibi
Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

According to a story by the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP), in a message to the Prime Minister and members of the Parliament and Senate of Canada, PCC’s Raymond Durrani said, “We believe that finally it is sinking in the minds of the members that causes like these must not be ignored, and for that we at Pakistan Christian Congress commend you wholeheartedly.”

PCP said Canadian officials resolved, “That the House of Commons joins the Senate of Canada in calling upon the Government of Pakistan to immediately release Ms. Asia Bibi, to ensure her safety and well being, to hear the outcry of the international community and to respect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

PCP reported Bob Dechert, Member for Mississauga-Erindale (CPC) speaking in the House said, “Last November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement concerning Asia Bibi's incarceration in Pakistan under its blasphemy law. At the time, the Government of Canada registered its concerns with Pakistan at the highest levels. We have also called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy which restrict religious freedom and expression, and target religious minorities.”

PCP said Dechert added, “We remember the brave stance taken by Governor Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, both of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their promotion of the rights of religious minorities, tolerance and legal reforms. The promotion and protection of human rights are an integral part of Canada's foreign policy.”

Dechert called on Pakistan to release Bibi, and to ensure equal rights and equal protection for all members of minority communities.

PCP said addressing the House, Phil McColeman, Member for Brant (CPC) said, “I am deeply concerned over the sentencing of a woman to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a local court on November 8. I hope that this judgment and any others like it will be swiftly struck down on appeal.”

He added, “My colleague, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, who has been visiting Pakistan, registered Canada's concerns with the sentencing of Asia Bibi in a meeting with the Pakistani foreign minister.”

PCP said he continued to say that Canada has repeatedly urged the Government of Pakistan to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy, which restrict freedom of religion and of expression. These laws, he said, have disproportionately targeted religious minorities.

PCP said the Canadian parliamentarian vowed that Canadian officials will continue to encourage federal and provincial authorities in Pakistan to respect the country’s international human rights obligations, and to ensure the safety and well-being of all of its citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Durrani concluded, “We admire the courage of the members of the Canadian Parliament and members of the Canadian Senate, and thank them from the bottom of our hearts. We really believe that someday members of the Christian nation in Pakistan will enjoy the same freedom and rights in their own country as the Canadians and citizens of other countries around the world.”

Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."

Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at

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