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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Half a million people call for release of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi

By P. Todd Nettleton
Special to ASSIST News Service

BARTLESVILLE, OKLA. (ANS) -- More than 560,000 people around the world have signed a petition asking the Pakistani government to release Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother falsely accused of blasphemy against Mohammed and sentenced to death by a Pakistani court.

Asia Bibi received a death sentence after being convicted of blasphemy

Bibi has appealed the conviction to the Lahore High Court, but is still in jail pending the outcome of her appeal. If the High Court upholds the guilty verdict and death sentence, the case could be appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

The online petition, at, was launched by The Voice of the Martyrs after 150,000 Pakistani Christians started the petition calling for justice for Asia Bibi and better protection of religious minorities in Pakistan. VOM sister offices in other countries have also promoted the petition drive, and people from more than 100 nations have signed thus far. VOM is delivering petition signatures to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC. The goal is to collect one million signatures asking for Bibi’s release.

VOM made the first petition delivery—more than 400,000 signatures—to the embassy in November. The signatures were accepted by an official at the embassy, who encouraged VOM staff to be patient with the legal process inside Pakistan. The official pointed out that even if the High Court does not overturn the death penalty, the Supreme Court of Pakistan could do so. And if the Supreme Court doesn’t, the case could be appealed to Pakistan’s president. (More on the embassy delivery:

Winners of the contest

Two college students from Asbury College in Kentucky were a part of the delivery team in Washington DC. The two won the opportunity to join in the trip by creating a video ( encouraging people to speak out on Asia Bibi’s behalf by signing the petition. Their video has been viewed more than 35,000 times online.

Christians around the world are unwilling to wait silently while Asia Bibi sits in jail, separated from her husband and daughters. VOM sources say Bibi’s appeal is unlikely to be heard anytime soon—maybe not for years—underlining the need for government intervention to alleviate this injustice.

Those who wish to add their voices on behalf of Asia Bibi are encouraged to sign the petition at

Todd Nettleton is Director of Media Development for The Voice of the Martyrs (, working with the media to tell the stories of persecuted Christians. During 13 years of service at VOM, he’s travelled to meet Christians who face persecution in numerous countries and been interviewed more than 1,700 times by various media outlets. Todd is the author of RESTRICTED NATIONS: North Korea, a 2009 book about the church in North Korea. He helped write four other VOM books. He also wrote Justice For All, a crime/suspense novel. The son of missionaries, Todd did part of his growing up in Papua New Guinea and the rest in Southern California.

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