Letter to Pakistan - Ambassador
His Excellency Akbar Zeb,
High Commissioner for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
10 Range Road,
Ottawa, Ont. K1N 8J3
Your Excellency Akbar Zeb:
I am a Canadian Christian concerned about human rights in Pakistan.
Asia Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009, and was charged with blasphemy over a religious discussion she had with Muslim co-workers. Bibi told them that Christ died for our sins and that “Our Christ is the true prophet of God.” The Muslim women erupted in anger and began to beat Bibi and pressured her to convert to Islam. She was locked up and it was announced from a mosque that she would be punished publicly. Police took Bibi into custody. Muslim leaders pressed for blasphemy charges and, in 2010 ,Bibi was sentenced to death. Her execution has not yet occurred and her sentence is under appeal.
Imran Ghafur Masih was sentenced to life in prison on January 11, 2010. He was accused of burning pages of the Quran. While cleaning out a relative's retail shop, Imran was burning some trash and some pages of a Muslim book had fallen into the fire. One July 19, 2010, two Christian men, who were facing charges of blasphemy against Mohammed, were shot dead as they left the courthouse. Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet minister was also slain. He had called for the reforming of Pakistan’s blasphemy law and also for the release of Bibi.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long been criticized by advocates of freedom. Former President Musharraf made efforts to reform the law in 2000 but decided to drop the issue when Muslim religious protest arose. Also, in 2000, Pakistani Senator, Mushahid Hussain Sayed declared that this law would be changed after the governmental election of that year . However, it has remained in place.
I am concerned for the welfare of Asia Bibi and Imran Ghafur Masih. Christians around the world are aware of their cases and want to see them released from jail and given asylum in a country where they will be safe. I am asking you to work towards seeing them released and towards seeing Pakistan's blasphemy laws repealled.
Thank you for hearing my concerns. I have also written and expressed these concerns to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. I will be pleased to hear back from you.
Respectfully and sincerely,