Lela Gilbert, author of “Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner” (and frequent PolitiChicks.tv guest) has written an article for Fox News in which she updates the imprisonment of Christians in the Middle East, including Asia Bibi and Pastor Saeed Abedini. Regarding Pakistani Asia Bibi, Lela writes,
“In June 2009, Asia was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries, after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Asia would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.”
Lela says many have spoken out on Asia Bibi’s behalf, including Pope Benedict, but that “two prominent Pakistanis, Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Christian minorities, and Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab, were assassinated in 2011 for opposing Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws on her behalf.”
“Unsure if she will live or die”, writes Lela, “Asia Bibi waits.”
Lela also offers an update on Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence because he “undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and … attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.”
“Despite urgent requests for medical care – his body is internally wounded from abominable prison conditions including beatings and torture – he was denied treatment. Eventually, presumably under pressure from several international organizations’ outcry, Abedini was taken to a medical center, unshackled and even permitted a brief visit from a family member.
What happened after that? Once the encouraging proceedings passed, Abedini was still in pain, still bleeding from internal injuries. He remains hospitalized but untreated. Like Asia Bibi, he is the focus of much international prayer and non-governmental activism. Even the EU has spoken up, as has President Obama. But Abedini is entirely unsure about the future. Will he see his wife and two small children again? Will he live or die? He has been behind bars since September 26, 2012.”
Lela says “other captives are waiting, along with their loved ones, in Egypt.
Lela Gilbert is author of “Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner” and co-author, with Nina Shea and Paul Marshall, of “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.” She is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and lives in Jerusalem. For more, visit her website: www.lelagilbert.com. Follow her on Twitter@lelagilbert.