A news item regarding capital punishment to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, for blasphemy appeared in your columns on November. The story has perplexed me for a number of reasons. It is worth mentioning that for years we have been reading about blasphemy, committed by Muslim citizens of Pakistan, but none of them was awarded death punishment. Asia Bibi was on death row since 2010, but despite repeated requests and appeals for pardon the sentence has been confirmed by the Lahore High Court, which appears somewhat abnormal.

The details of what constitutes blasphemy are not known to the common man but we presume it is derogatory remarks about Allah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), other prophets of Islam and some important clauses of our religion. As per the details of this incident the uneducated, uncouth and obviously unwise Asia Bibi was laboring in a field when a row broke out with some Muslim woman she was working with. ‘She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.’ What Asia Bibi said in reply is not known, but a group of Muslim women went to a cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations against her. As we know Islam advocates respect for all religions. What the Muslim women said to her was a ‘disgrace to Christianity.’ Whatever Asia Bibi uttered was obviously in retaliation, the factor which the judiciary must give due consideration and commute her punishment as well, or is this law only applicable when something about Islam is said? Can some learned scholar shed some light on the subject?

RAFI NASIM,

Lahore, November 3.