Asia Bibi made Citizen of Honour of the City of Paris
The Paris Council voted unanimously this week to make Asia Bibi, a young mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, a Citizen of Honour of the City of Paris.
Falsely accused of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad, Asia Bibi is the victim of a village row between neighbours exacerbated by her Christian faith in a predominantly Muslim country. Following a dispute with Muslim co-workers, she was arrested and imprisoned, before being sentenced to death by hanging in 2010. All of her subsequent judicial appeals were dismissed.
On November 30th, the Supreme Court agreed to reopen and to reconsider her case, and a new trial will be held in May.
In order to support her in the fight against intolerance and obscurantism, Mayor Hidalgo submitted the proposal to award Asia Bibi the title of Citizen of Honour, a rare distinction presented to the most emblematic defenders of human rights in the world.
Since 2001, 14 individuals (5 women and 9 men) have been named Citizens of Honour of the City of Paris: a title awarded by the Paris Council to those distinguished by their commitment to promoting democracy and defending human rights and freedom of speech.
6 individuals have been awarded the title since 2010:
Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Jafar Panahi, th Iranian film director and a figurehead in the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom of expression; Raoni Metuktire, the chief of the Kayapo tribe and activist for indigenous rights and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest; Ales Bialiatski, the prominent Belarusian defender of human rights; Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa and symbol of the struggle for racial equality. Most recently this January following the atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris, the Paris Council voted unanimously in favour of bestowing the title of Citizen of Honour of the City of Paris on Charlie Hebdo, the first publication to be awarded this distinction.
"To be a Citizen of Honour is to embody the values of Paris, the values of freedom and tolerance. Through this gesture, I want to demonstrate Paris' solidarity with the numerous women around the world, of all faiths, who are victims of religious obscurantism and political extremism," underlined Mayor Hidalgo in her address to the Paris Council.
The Mayor also reiterated her offer of welcoming Asia Bibi and her family to Paris, as soon as she is freed. Unveiling a portrait of Asia in front of the City Hall last December, she observed "We must support Asia Bibi, because it is women, in all regions of the world, who are the first victims of the order that theocrats - in misappropriating religious messages - try to impose”.