Cardinal calls for Clemency for Aasia Bibi
ShekinahToday 10.02.2013, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, has called for “a gesture of clemency” for Aasia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman who has been sentenced to death in 2009. Aasia Bibi is waiting in jail for her appeal to be heard ever since.
Aasia Bibi got convicted under article 295-C of Pakistan’s controversial Blasphemy Laws after an argument with Muslim work colleagues. She had no legal representative when she faced capital punishment. (see our article “Aasia Bibi- A Picture of Faith or Misery“)
In a letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari His Eminence clearly asked for the release of Aasia Bibi which would have “an enormous significance and would greatly promote dialogue and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians.”
He further added “In my long life, I have always worked to help Christians and Muslims live together as brothers, ever since Blessed John Paul asked me to organize the historical meeting for peace in Assisi on October 27, 1986.”
The meeting for peace in Assisi was the first time that world’s religious leaders met on invitation of a Pope. Cardinal Etchegaray, today 90 years old, was the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1984–1998.
The appeal of Cardinal Etchegaray is the latest from the international community on behalf of Aasia Bibi. In January, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi appealed to the Pakistan government through the Italian embassy in Islamabad to release Aasia Bibi.
The Aasia Bibi case has been highlighted worldwide and brought further scrutiny on Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation, which is often used unjustly to settle personal scores or target religious minorities.