The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed profound concern over the rejection of an appeal against the death sentence for a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, convicted under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. To promote tolerance, religious harmony and protection of the rights of religious minorities, Tveit said it is important that justice is ensured in cases like that of Asia Bibi.
“The alleged circumstances of the incident which led to the blasphemy charges against Ms Bibi are highly questionable, and the imposition of the death penalty in this case is totally inappropriate. Apart from the issues of religious freedom, the charges, on-going imprisonment and threat of execution seem to have infringed Ms Bibi’s basic human rights,” Tveit said in a statement issued from the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 27 October.
Calling the blasphemy law prone to abuse, Tveit expressed his hope that the Pakistan Supreme Court will reverse the decision from the lower court in Bibi’s case.
“I look forward to encouraging people of good will, both in Pakistan and in the wider world, to work together to encourage the amendment in the blasphemy law under which such charges have been made against Asia Bibi,” Tveit said.
The WCC over a number of years has expressed concern on the abuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy law along with its member churches in the country. In 2009, the Central Committee, a chief governing body of the WCC, issued a statement on the misuse of the blasphemy law and the security of religious minorities in Pakistan.