Pakistan's Supreme Court to rule on Christian woman facing death over blasphemy

Hugh Fox
October 31, 2018

The Pakistani Supreme Court will issue its decision on the appeal of Christian mom Asia Bibi's conviction and death sentence for blasphemy tomorrow.

"The appeal is allowed". Consequently, the conviction as also the sentence of death awarded to the appellant is set aside and she is acquitted of the charge.

A trial court had convicted Aasia Bibi and sentenced her to death.

Given the probing questions from the Justices during arguments on appeal and Pakistan's history of never executing a death sentence in a blasphemy case, the only reason for the Supreme Court to uphold Asia's conviction would be the extreme pressure from Islamic groups that has now engulfed the country, including threats against the Justices.

The top judge announced, "She is to be set free if she is not wanted in any other case".

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Her case has outraged christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Ms. Bibi were assassinated. Bibi had appealed against the Lahore High Court's order that in 2014 upheld the death sentence given earlier by a trial court. Ms Bibi said from prison after the ruling. Asia Bibi responded with disbelief while talking to APF.

Asia Bibi was convicted for blasphemy under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for allegedly defaming Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

Insulting Islam's prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions they are nearly impossible to defend against.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the the capital punishment for breaking them has drawn concern from global rights organizations, "not least because they are sometimes misused to settle feuds, grab land, or persecute religious minorities by making false allegations", NPR's Phillip Reeves has reported.

Campaigners argue Pakistan's blasphemy laws are often based on thin evidence and used to get revenge for personal disputes.

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The allegations against Bibi were that she made three "defamatory and sarcastic" statements about the Holy Prophet on June 14, 2009 during an argument with three Muslim women while the four of them were picking fruit in a field in Sheikhupura.

Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi in an undated photo handed out by family in 2010.

However, on 7 October, Ashiq Masih, Bibi's husband, said his wife was "spiritually strong" and "ready and willing to die for Christ", adding that she will "never convert to Islam".

"Finally Asia Bibi has won", her lawyer, Saiful Malook, told The Times. In addition to citing the Qur'an, the judges also referenced Shakespeare's King Lear, saying Bibi was "more sinned against than sinning".

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