Stories about Aasia Bibi

How I survived four and a half years in captivity

August 26, 2011, an ordinary day. I was driving to work on the same road in Lahore that I took every day, and my mind was busy with the mundane. A car blocked the road, but I didn’t give it much thought. Then five masked men put a gun to my head, pulled me out of the car and my world spun horribly out of control. Right now, I can’t tell all of the details of my capture or my release for security reasons. Someday I hope to be able to recount the full story. But I can say for ...

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The hypocrisy of Muslim outrage in Pakistan

I’m sure everyone remembers Ahmed Mohammed, the clock boy. Does everyone also remember the furor it caused in the pious Muslim circles? Sure, it was pretty ridiculous of the authorities to nab him from his school in the US and it was fairly stupid of them to mistake a homemade clock for a bomb but I do remember the self-righteous outrage in the circles that generally wouldn’t do this ‘please share to spread awareness’ kind of thing if the subject was Naveed Rafique.  Who is Naveed Rafique you ask? He is a 13-year-old boy from Jaranwala, Punjab. Naveed was a position holder in his ...

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Poor little rich boy

Three days ago, Shaan Taseer, a forty-something scion of one of the wealthiest families in Pakistan trashed a couple of college students half his age, over a school project. The attack was sexist, classist — and public. And, it went downhill from there. Taseer’s delicate sensibilities were initially offended by the students’ small protest-art installation comprising of 25 sanitary napkins taped to a wall inside their school campus. The seven friends, young women and men, hoped to stir a conversation about the body shaming that accompanies the onset of menstruation. Instead, the students, particularly two of the women, were singled out for verbal ...

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Five years on: We still await a verdict on Salmaan Taseer’s battle against blasphemy laws

Any discourse on slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination begins and ends with a trenchant critique of the country’s blasphemy law. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two and dealing with both simultaneously has become an inescapable reality. The close association between the death of a governor and the discriminatory nature of a law remains painfully relevant because it evokes dark memories of violence and bigotry. Taseer’s assassination strikes a raw nerve and reminds the world of an injustice that put the cuffs on a Christian girl who had allegedly passed derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It also plucks ...

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After five years, will justice finally prevail for Aasia Bibi?

Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death approximately five years ago, an incident that added to the miseries of the already-marginalised Christian minority within Pakistan. At the time, very few had the mental capacity to question the Lahore High Court’s verdict to sentence an innocent woman to death, and for those who did, the chickens came home to roost. Salman Taseer paid his price for speaking against the heinous blasphemy law with 27 bullets in his body and blood splattered all across Kohsar Market, with his words drenched in blood, “My resolve is so strong that I do not fear the flames from without, I fear ...

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Dear Junaid Jamshed, Google ‘misogyny’, and then stay away from it forever

Junaid Jamshed has done it again. And it looks like he’ll never learn. Whatever made him say the things he did about Hazrat Aisha (RA) previously which made him run for his life, were clearly not enough for him to understand what he’s doing wrong. And if I were his PR manager (if and so he actually has one) this would be my one single email to him, “Dear boss, Google the word ‘misogyny’. Then stay away from it forever.” In another email, I’d gently explain to him the meaning of hypocrisy. The right to practice your beliefs is clear and there is no disputing that. ...

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May peace win

Al Arabiya: “An Iranian educational and exhibition centre has launched an international cartoon competition around the theme of Holocaust denial, in a response to the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) by the French Charlie Hebdo magazine.” Charlie Hebdo’s immediate publication of an issue of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) with a tear and a message of forgiveness, in response to the January 7 massacre, has fomented protests from Mali to Lahore. Iran came up with a Holocaust cartoon competition, and Pakistani lawmaker Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour offered a bounty to whoever can murder the owner of Charlie Hebdo. Then Copenhagen, in a parallel attack to Hebdo, saw another sociopath fire shots at ...

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An open letter to Junaid Jamshed

Dear JJ Sahib, First of all, condolences for the recent situation you find yourself in. It is most unfortunate that our first correspondence be in times that are possibly troubling for you. With the formalities out of the way, I have a confession to make – I really could not care less about your situation. Why then am I writing you a letter? Like others from my generation, I grew up listening to your songs. I met you 15 years ago, backstage after a concert. I was a star-crazed teenager and you were, well, a star. You gave me a hug and laughed ...

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Will Islam be judged if Aasia Bibi is executed?

Aasia Bibi, mother of five, sits in prison hoping one last appeal will save her from death row. If she is executed, as with the lynching of Shahzad and Shama Masih and the assassination of Salman Taseer, Islam will be judged. In such cases involving religion, to believe that ‘all of’ or ‘none of’ Islam supports blasphemy laws or the ideology of the Taliban, Daesh, Boko Haram, etcetera, suggests intellectual laziness at best and bigotry at worst. But it’s reasonable to examine some of Islam. The questions become those of quantification – how many Muslims subscribe to blasphemy laws, honour killings, suicide bombings, and ...

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Series 2: “The Djinn” Part 4 Halloween

I hadn’t seen Hercules in a while, and I wondered how djinns celebrated Halloween, perhaps by pretending to be human. I, myself, had celebrated Halloween by putting on a Rehman Malik wig and a pair of Asif Zardari grinning dentures. I found him on a stool, and he was made up to look human. Atop his pint-sized body, on his normally clean shaven face now without a veil, were the most outsized moustaches I had ever seen; bushy, black and shiny, upturned and pointy at the ends. Before I could say anything, Hercules struck a ‘Ta-da’ pose on the carpet in front of me. “But… ...

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