Friday, April 08, 2011

Asia Noreen Bibi - Chickenpox on Death Row

      Just when things seemed like they could not get worse for Asia Noreen Bibi, they did.
While fasting for peace during Lent, she contracted Chickenpox. 
Bibi has been in solitary confinement in a Pakistan prison for three months and in prison for two years. She is a Christian and Muslim neighbors accused her of blasphemy  and demanded her execution. The court sentenced the mother of five to death by hanging on Nov. 8, 2010 for defending her Christian faith.  The Muslim extremist community, apparently very influential in rural Pakistan, assassinated the province governor for seeking a pardon for Bibi. Then they assassinated the Christian minister of minority affairs in Pakistan, a gentleman who had called international attention to Bibi's case.  Christians sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy law have always been murdered before they are executed. 

     Yet Bibi is still alive. She cooks her own food, even in prison, out of fear of being poisoned. She's alone, separated from her family, surrounded by religious enemies. If anyone deserves asylum, it's her.
 Instead of asylum, she got Chickenpox.  This irritating and potentially disfiguring disease causes hundreds of small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters to appear all over the body. Eventually, they burst and form craters that eventually heal.   The trick with Chickenpox is to avoid scratching the blisters, which can easily lead to a more infection.  Anyone who has ever had Chickenpox will remember the itchiness even years later. It's constant, like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. But you can't scratch -- you might get an infection or leave a scar.

     Well, if anything can take your mind off potential assassination and looming execution, I suppose Chickenpox will do just fine.  Bibi has contracted a case of the Chickenpox that has left her gravely ill. The question is -- how did Bibi, stuck in solitary confinement for three months, get exposed to this disease?


     I can't help but remember the original cause of Bibi's arrest. She is a farm worker. She worked the fields with a number of other women.
When they were thirsty from working in the fields, Bibi fetched water for them. They refused and said water from a Christian was impure. She defended her faith. They accused her of violating Pakistan's blasphemy law. The penalty is death.  All this took place over a simple act of kindness. 

     For all she has suffered, Bibi is a martyr for freedom of religion.  
Happy is the age that needs no martyrs.

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