The Pattern: Asia Bibi and 1400 Years of Muhammad 'Blasphemers'
“Hang the infidel” is the cry emanating from thousands of Muslim throats in Pakistan. The reason: Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, has apparently not suffered enough. As the married mother of five wrote in her smuggled memoirs: “I've been locked up, handcuffed and chained, banished from the world and waiting to die” since 2010.
Yet Muslims everywhere in Pakistan demand that she still be put to death.
How exactly did she “blaspheme” against Muhammad? While working in the field one hot summer day, she dared take a drink from the common well.
Her Muslim counterparts were outraged that she -- a “filthy animal” and a “filthy Christian,” as they called her -- had befouled their water source. As their verbal upbraiding escalated, the Christian woman dared to defend herself, prompting the outraged Muslim women to call on her to “convert to Islam to redeem yourself for your filthy religion.”
The beleaguered Christian shot back:
I’m not going to convert. I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?
“That’s when the hatred bursts out from all sides,” explains Asia in her memoirs. “All around me the women start screaming.” They beat and spat on her while screaming, “How dare you say such a thing about our Prophet?!”
Days later, she was imprisoned for blasphemy and sentenced to death, in keeping with Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Considering how touchy Muslims get whenever they hear any critical talk of Muhammad, one might miss the ironic fact that, from the dawn of Islam to now, millions of non-Muslims have been asking Asia’s question -- “What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” -- or variants thereof.
In one infamous instance in the late 1390s, Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire’s most able emperors, told a group of Muslim ulema (scholars):
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Like Asia Bibi, Manuel did not make this assertion to be provocative, but rather because he was in Muslim (Ottoman) territory, and a throng of Muslim scholars were also pressuring him into converting to Islam.