International Clamor for Asia Bibi's Release Grows


Date:  2012-07-28

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Vatican Radio is reporting that amid the growing international campaign demanding release of Asia Bibi, a Church official in Pakistan said the local Church would prefer to maintain a solemn, prayerful vigil.

Asia Bibi

Bibi is a Christian mother of five sentenced by a Pakistani trial court to death for blasphemy. She was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death by a trial court on Nov. 11 2010.

"We understand the concern behind such international campaigns. But the life of this woman is very important to us, and we will not do anything that would endanger her life," said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, recently in Lahore.

Vatican Readio reported that Mani, when asked about the growing international campaign for the release of Bibi said, "Instead of making noises, we would prefer to keep quiet and wait for the high court to hear her appeal."

According to Vatican Radio, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari dropped the clemency move for the condemned Christian mother after Islamic fundamentalist parties and groups staged massive demonstrations in Pakistan against the move.

Vatican Radio said the latest campaign for Bibi's release has come from British-based Christian pop band Ooberfuse, which announced in June a media blitz to raise awareness on the plight of the farmhand. Bibi has been in "isolated detention" in a Sheikhupura prison.

The Free Asia Bibi media-awareness campaign includes the release of a song titled Free Asia Bibi, a music video and an information website. Vatican Radio said the music video features a disturbing visual portrayal of the squalid prison conditions where Bibi is being held.

"When we were invited to be involved in this project, we knew very little about the life and significance of Asia Bibi. We started reading all of the press accounts of her trial and condemnation to death," said Hal St. John, a member of Ooberfuse.

According to the Ooberfuse website the band stumbled across Bibi's biography, Blasphème, written by French journalist Anne Isabelle Tollet, who was based in Pakistan during 2008-2011.

An award-winning pop band, Ooberfuse was a featured performer at World Youth Day in Madrid and has recently been commissioned by the U.K. Catholic Church to compose a soundtrack to promote religious vocations.

Vatican Radio reported that Ooberfuse lead singer Cherrie Anderson said, "We want the world to not just hear her story, but to do something about it."

The song can be downloaded at Proceeds from the sale will be donated for the benefit of Bibi's family via the British Pakistani Christian Association.

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