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Blasphemy: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water


French journalist Anne Isabelle Tollet, who served as Asia Bibi’s ghost-writer, tells her story in Blasphemy: A Memoir : Sentenced to Death over a Cup of  Water.

Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water
Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water

Anne Isabelle Tollet recalls her almost impossible venture saying,” It wasn’t easy. But I knew Pakistan and the Christian minority there very well because I had been living in Pakistan for three years. I could understand the people. I met Asia’s sister, and I knew her children and husband. I asked them many, many questions about her. I asked them about what she was like, and about her faith, and about their feelings on many things. And because I was involved in this story and knew Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistan minister of minorities (one of the men who was assassinated after speaking up for Bibi), I knew many things about the situation and about the family. Even though I never met Asia Bibi, I was able to interview her indirectly by asking questions through her husband, who was allowed to visit her once a week at the jail. I could also imagine where she was, because I used to visit different jails in Pakistan for other stories. I know how it is. I think I managed to do it, because when we gave the book to her family, they were very surprised because it portrayed exactly what she is.”


While reflecting on the survival of Christians in Pakistan Anne Isabelle Tollet said, “It depends on where you live; whether you live in a small village or in PunjabPakistan’s most populated and developed area. Some people are not educated at all, and when you are a Christian you have to be careful. In a big town, you’re okay if you are living in a Christian community. They live together and don’t have any trouble with Muslim people.”

An extract from her book is presented below:

One summer morning in Pakistan, a Christian woman named Asia Bibi took a break from her fieldwork to drink a cup of cold water from a well. Since she was a Christian, the Muslim women there saw her actions as contaminating the water. Angered, the women began to argue with her……Her question made the women furious. Bibi was beaten by a crowd and thrown into prison, accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. She has been held since June 2009, and has become an international symbol of the capriciousness and cruelty of the Pakistani blasphemy law. Two Pakistani officials who spoke up for Bibi have been assassinated.