Asia Bibi: Pakistan lifts Christian woman's death sentence for blasphemy

Pak Supreme Court To Rule On Christian Woman Facing Death Over Blasphemy

A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy.

Bibi was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. A few days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was convicted and sentenced to death. Her whereabouts has been kept secret for security reasons.

As with her previous trials and appeals, large crowds gathered outside the court in Islamabad on Wednesday demanding her conviction be upheld and the execution carried out.

Reports said her case gained additional prominence when then-Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer pleaded for a retrial of her case and was subsequently murdered by one of his security guards, Mumtaz Qadri, in 2011.

It is a case which has drawn worldwide attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and divided the nation. But in Pakistan, it has rallied radical Islamists and militant groups who have embraced Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, using it to cultivate support and attack those who try to break their power.

Christians like Bibi are frequently targeted by accusations of blasphemy - a unsafe charge where even a mere whiff on an allegation has sparked lynchings.

The judgement has sparked a backlash from hardline Islamists who have called for the death of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and two other judges behind the ruling.

Wednesday´s acquittal of the illiterate mother represented a rare victory for the community - with Christians in Pakistan´s capital Islamabad hailing the Supreme Court´s decision.




One firebrand radical, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik movement, has asked people in video messages to be prepared to make "any sacrifice".

The group's emir for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said: "The goal of this protest is to raise awareness that if any such judgment is delivered in this sensitive case that grants concessions to the blasphemer Asia, then we will protest all over the country".

According to the Supplementary Cause List, the highest court in the land is set to announce its verdict Wednesday morning Pakistani time.

The women said her faith had made a cup she used unclean and she should convert to Islam.

"The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings", Bibi's lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook told AFP.

The TLP's leadership called for the death of Nasif, the chief justice, and two other judges on the panel.

"The patron in chief of TLP, Muhammad Afzal Qadri, has issued the edict that says the chief justice and all those who ordered the release of Asia deserve death", said party spokesperson Ejaz Ashrafi.

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