(CNSNews.com) – Asia Bibi, a Catholic Pakistani mother of five who was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for blasphemy, wrote a letter to Pope Francis sending Christmas greetings and adding that, even though in a Pakistan prison, she also “celebrated the birth of the Lord.” Bibi has been in prison in Multan, Pakistan for four-and-a-half years and currently is waiting for the conclusion of her appeals to the court.
“To His Holiness Pope Francis: in the name of our almighty and glorious Lord, I, Asia Bibi, would like to express my deepest gratitude to God and to you, Holy Father,” the imprisoned mother wrote in her letter, which was published in the Italian newspaper Tempi on Dec. 31.
“I hope that every Christian has been able to celebrate the Christmas just past with joy,” Bibi wrote. “Like many other prisoners, I also celebrated the birth of the Lord in prison in Multan, here in Pakistan.”
She continued, “I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom. I do not know how long I can go on and on. If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me. I have met many people who speak and fight for me. Unfortunately, still to no avail. At this time I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible. Only God will be able to free me.”
The mother of five thanked the “Renaissance Education Foundation” for bringing her husband and children to her prison in Multan so that she could see them at Christmas, calling it a “dream come true.”
“I would have liked to be in St. Peter’s for Christmas to pray with you,” she wrote to the Pope, “but I trust in God’s plan for me and hopefully it will be achieved next year.”
Regarding her prison conditions, Bibi wrote, “I am facing many problems this winter: my cell has no heating and no door for shelter from the bitter cold, the security measures are not adequate, and I do not have enough money for daily needs and am very far from Lahore so my family cannot help me.”
“Holy Father, I want finally for you to accept my best wishes for the New Year. I know you pray for me with all your heart. And this gives me confidence that one day my freedom will be possible,” she wrote.
Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after an incident where she drank from a cup at a well. Bibi’s Muslim co-workers claimed that her use of the well made it “unclean” because she was a Christian. An argument ensued, and witnesses testified at her trial that she insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
A few days later a mob came to her house and beat her and her family, and she was then arrested by the police under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s Penal Code (the “anti-blasphemy” law), as reported by CNN.
In November 2010, Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy. She has remained in prison since then, enduring a lengthy appeals process.
Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, during a May 20, 2013 press conference said: “In terms of Pakistan, there’s a new government, there’s a new leadership, and I think it remains to be seen how people handle it. As to the question previously, blasphemy is very important to us, and there are many who are being held in prisons still – Asia Bibi and others – about 20 others who are in prison because of their belief. So we have to see what this new government will do. We certainly encourage him and will urge him to again hold accountable the perpetrators of violence and to make sure that there’s protection of religious minorities. And so that’s going to be very important. Human rights is a very high priority for this Administration.”