ROME, FEB. 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- It's rare to have the Pope supported by the European Parliament in standing up for the rights of Christians, but that's what has happened with respect to the disturbing case of Asia Bibi.
A 46-year-old Pakistani Christian mother of five, Bibi has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, heavily fined and forced to spend over a year in solitary confinement for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad.
One of the nations that is leading calls on the Pakistani government for leniency is Italy. Last Saturday, Rome played host to a moving concert held in Bibi's honour, sponsored, among others, by the Community of Sant'Egidio, Pakistani Christians in Italy, and Religions for Peace, and held in the famous Franciscan-run church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
The choir and orchestra of the German School of Rome, made up of musicians and choristers of all ages, performed Anton Bruckner's Mass in F-minor -- a fitting piece of music that conveys the certainty of faith. The concert's aim, the school's music director said in his introduction, was simply "to bring hope" to Asia Bibi....
And yet so far, these worldwide appeals have gone unheeded, most probably for fear of reprisals. In the meantime, the controversy appears to be escalating. On Jan. 30, on a day of prayer and fasting in Pakistan for peace, some 40,000 Islamic militants took to the streets of Lahore to protest against pressure to repeal the law, with some protesters burning an effigy of the Pope, according to a Pakistani press report. By contrast, a special prayer vigil was held on the same day in Lahore's Franciscan church of St Mary. Joining the Archbishop of Lahore at the vigil were representatives from other Christian denominations as well as Hindu and Muslim leaders.
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