Church in Plea to Pakistan Government to Release and Protect Christian Woman Sentenced to Death for 'Blasphemy'

Two of the Church of Scotland’s most senior ministers have written to the Pakistani High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan urging his government to release and pardon Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to hang after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

The Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, Convener of the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland, and Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, wrote jointly to the High Commissioner about the plight of the 45-year-old mother of five.

Both have asked the Pakistan Government also to ensure that she and her family are protected from those who seek to take the law into their own hands. 

The Church of Scotland has also called on Pakistan to repeal the Blasphemy Law.  The law which was designed to protect people of all faiths and to promote respect for all religions is being used to intimidate and terrorise minority faith communities in Pakistan.   Dr McLellan and Mr Galloway both argue that this goes against the teachings of Islam is contrary to the culture of the majority of the Pakistani people.

Fears about the use and abuse of the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan to settle scores, exact revenge or inflame religious extremism have increased.  The Church of Scotland’s concern has been heightened because since 1991 anyone found guilty under Section 295 (C) of the Pakistan Penal Code faces a mandatory death sentence. 

Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed by Muslim farm workers following a dispute about their different faiths and prosecuted under Section 295.  She spent the last year-and-half in prison after being found guilty and she was sentenced to death on November 8, 2010.

The Church of Scotland has ties with Pakistan dating back to 1857 and cherishes its association with the Church of Pakistan in continuing to develop and deepen those links.  The Church of Scotland has given financial aid following the 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan and this summer’s devastating floods, which allowed the Kirk’s partners to give aid to affected communities of all faiths.

Notes to News Desks and Reporters: For further information or interview requests please contact Nick Jury, Senior Media Relations Officer, Communications Department, Church of Scotland, on 0131 240 2268

News Release 86/12/10

Contact: Nick Jury
Phone: 0131 240 2268