Category Archives: Campaigns

Aasia Bibi arrives in Canada – a bitter-sweet day

Aasia Bibi arrives in Canada – a bitter-sweet day.
(Statement by the Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians)

The good news for Aasia (Noreen) Bibi, is that she will, hopefully, live a life free of the always-present possibility of injury, or worse, that she faced in Pakistan. But, it’s sad is that she was forced to leave her home-land because of the prejudice, discrimination and violence that she faced if she had continued to live there.

Upon Ms. Noreen’s acquittal by the Supreme Court of blasphemy charges in October of 2018, there were huge demonstrations by fundamentalists protesting the SC judgment, and calling for her murder. Given that her life was in danger, the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau in early November asking that she and her family be given asylum in Canada. We also circulated a public petition to the same effect at that time. Having said that, we do not take any credit for the asylum given to her – the decision was made at much higher levels – and thank the government for taking this step.

Since our inception in the early 1980’s, the CPPC has stood for secularism, equality of all regardless of gender, religious beliefs, nationality or ethnicity, for peace and against militarism and wars, for genuine democracy and for social justice and socialism.

To reiterate our views on this particular matter we want the government of Pakistan to i) generously compensate Aasia Noreen and her family for the agonies they have suffered and ii) severely punish the women who brought the false charges against her, Qari Mohammad Salim, the local mulla who turned a personal dispute into a matter of blasphemy, and the Punjab High Court judge who convicted her to death on flimsy grounds. Fundamentalist/terrorist organizations must be strictly banned, as must be any propaganda against religious minorities in the mainstream or the social media.

Pakistan should get rid of the ‘Blasphemy Laws’; the approximately 1,400 people who are in jails for blasphemy should be released forthwith. Over sixty people have been extra-judiciously murder on the same accusation. The government should compensate their families and punish their killers.

Pakistan should become a secular country where religion and state are separate. If nothing else, the examples of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan (at least since General Zia-ul Haq), Afghanistan under the Mujahideen/Taliban and Iran since Khomeini make this clear. People should have the freedom of religious belief – as long as it is not socially injurious. There should also be freedom not to believe.

The efforts to weaken secularism and growing prejudice against Muslims and immigrants in the west, including Canada, by right-wing forces must be combatted.

Religion is used by ruling elites to divide people. We must reject divisiveness and strive for unity of all.

CPPC Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding asylum for Aasia Bibi

The Right Honorable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

As you are no doubt aware, Aasia Noreen, better known as Aasia Bibi, a woman from the minority Christian community in Pakistan, and a mother of five, was imprisoned for almost ten years, eight of them on death row, on false charges of ‘blasphemy’ (roughly translated as sacrilege).

Almost 1,400 people are in jail under the ‘Blasphemy Laws’, imposed on Pakistan by the brutal,
fundamentalist military dictator General Zia ul Haq. Sixty-two have been killed in cold blood for
this ‘crime’ even before their cases could be heard by the courts.

On October 31, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted Aasia Bibi of all charges and ordered her release from jail. However, her life is in grave danger at the hands of fundamentalist extremists who have threatened to kill her. It is most unfortunate, but the government of Pakistan might not be able to guarantee their security.

Aasia Bibi, and her family, have already suffered grievously. There is the great likelihood that they might suffer an even more violent and tragic fate. That is why the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians requests that your government urgently grant Aasia Bibi and her whole family asylum in Canada.

Thank you.

Omar Latif
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians

cc: Minister of Immigration: Ahmed.Hussen@