By Anthony Bond | 28 August 2013
A Christian woman has spoken of how she was given a death sentence in Pakistan because she drank water from a well with a cup used by Muslim women.
Mother-of-five Asia Bibi, 46, has spent the last four years languishing in a prison cell after being condemned to hang following a conviction for blasphemy.
She denied the charge of defiling the name of the prophet Mohammed during an argument with Muslim co-workers but was convicted following a trial.
With 97 per cent of Pakistan Muslim, hostility towards Christians is rife and the government refuses to release her because of angry protests by extremists.
Two government officials who have spoken out on her behalf have been murdered — including Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.
Now, as reported by the New York Post, Mrs Bibi — a farm worker from rural Punjab — has released a memoir called ‘Blasphemy’.
She describes how she has no idea how long she has left to live. Talking about how she ended up in her position, she says: ‘I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using “their” cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.
‘I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.’
In the book, Mrs Bibi describes how she ended up in this desperate situation on June 14, 2009 after going fruit-picking in the blazing sun.
Dripping with sweat as midday approached, she decided to head towards a well for a drink of water.
After pulling up a bucketful of water she used an old metal cup resting on the side of the well. But just seconds later she heard groans and noises from behind her.
One of the fruit pickers — who was also one of her neighbours — suddenly shouted that she cannot drink the water because it is forbidden by God.
The woman shouted out, telling all of the fruit pickers that the water in the well had been dirtied because Mrs Bibi drank from their cup.
After being told by the angry fruit-pickers to convert to Islam to redeem herself, Mrs Bibi decided to stand up to the crowd and defend Christianity.
But after she is pushed and shoved by the group, Mrs Bibi ran home.
But, five days later, while fruit picking in another field, things became much worse. She was suddenly attacked by an angry crowd who accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
She was eventually taken battered and bruised to the village imam and told she can redeem herself only by conversion to Islam or otherwise die.
She refused to convert but begged with the crowd that she did not insult their religion. They accused her of lying and repeatedly beat her until two policemen took her to a police station.
That day she was thrown into a prison cell and has remained locked up ever since.
Following her arrest in 2009, Mrs Bibi was held in the high-security District Jail Seikhupura, 22 miles north-west of Lahore. She has since been moved to a more remote prison.
She previously told how she feared being poisoned.
‘I am given raw material to cook for myself, since the administration fears I might be poisoned, as other Christians accused of blasphemy were poisoned or killed in the jail.’
Her book was dictated to her husband from jail who then relayed it to a French journalist.
Half of the proceeds from the book will help support Mrs Bibi and her family in their quest for justice.
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