Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water by Asia Bibi with Anne Isabella Tollet

The story of Asia Bibi spread internationally in 2010 when the Pakistani Christian was sentenced to death for her part in an incident in a field where she was harvesting falsa berries. She drank from a cup that she did not know was reserved for Muslims. It was a hot day and Bibi was thirsty. She did not consider the implications of her drink, to which a group of Muslim women responded with outrage. Words were exchanged, and Bibi's were interpreted as blasphemy by Pakistani law. For this, she was imprisoned and eventually sentenced to death.

Bibi is still in prison under the threat of execution. In cases like hers, the formal execution often never takes place because a guard or another inmate assassinates the condemned person. A reward for Bibi's assassination has already been posted by a Pakistani cleric. Two prominent Pakistanis who spoke up for Bibi's innocence have been assassinated already. Her family is hiding.

Bibi is illiterate. According to journalist Anne Isabella Tollet, the journalist has received secret dictated messages from Bibi from which she has written Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water, which was translated from French into English in 2012. It was only published in the U.S. in 2013, more than two years after the French edition.

Along with I Am Malala, Blasphemy paints a very disturbing of Pakistan. It should be in more public libraries.

Bibi, Asia with Anne Isabella Tollet. Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water. Chicago Review Press, 2013. 137p. ISBN 9781613748893.

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