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Asia Bibi: Pakistan abandons Christian woman on death row

CaptionAsia Bibi's case had been tremendously fragmented in religious conservative Pakistan A Pakistani court has blamed the death penalty of…

 Asia Bibi

Caption

Asia Bibi’s case had been tremendously fragmented in religious conservative Pakistan

A Pakistani court has blamed the death penalty of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarized the nation.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 201

0 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with his neighbors.

She always maintained her virginity, but has spent most of the eight years in loneliness.

Landmark government has already rejected protests from hardliners that support strong blasphemy laws.

There was a great police presence at the Supreme Court in Islamabad so many feared outbreaks of violence.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar read the ruler who says she was free to go, if not in connection with any other case.

  • Why Pakistan’s Christians Are Targeted
  • What are Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

What was Asia Bibi accused of?

The trial derives from an argument Asia Noreen, who had a group of women in June 2009.

They harvested fruit in Sheikhupura, near Lahore, when a row broke out about a bucket of water. The women said that because she had drank from a cup, they could no longer use it because her belief had made it unclean.

The woman claimed that in the following line they said that Asia Bibi would convert to Islam and that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in reply.

  • Christmas alone in a prison cell

She was later slaughtered in her home, where her prosecutor says she acknowledged blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation.

Asia Bibi acknowledged exchanging “hot words” with her neighbors but always claiming she did not say anything blasphemically and never confess.

Her lawyers said the prosecution was full of contradictions.

Why is this case so fragmented?

Islam is Pakistan’s national religion and is based on its legal system. Public support for strict blasphemy laws is strong.

Image copyright
EPA

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There is extensive support for severe punishment for blasphemers in Pakistan

Hardline politicians have often encountered severe punishment, in part as a way to strengthen their support base.

But critics say the laws have often been used to revenge after personal disputes, and judgments are based on thin evidence.

Most convicted are Muslims, but since the 1990s many Christians have been convicted.

No one has ever been executed, but some people accused of the crime have become lynched or murdered.

Asia’s fall became even more prominent after the murder of Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab Province. He had urged her to be forgiven and for the blasphemy to be reworked.

He was killed in great daylight at the beginning of 2011 by his security guard, Mumtaz Qadri, a supporter of the strict blasphemy law. Qadri was sentenced to death, but is still a hero to many.

Internationally, Asia’s Bibi conviction is generally condemned as a violation of human rights.

What’s happening now?

There is a fear that it can be a violent response to her discouragement.

Image copyright
AFP

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Asia Bibi’s husband and daughter say they are afraid of their security in Pakistan

Like her previous trials and appeal, large crowds gathered outside the court in Islamabad on Wednesday calling for her conviction to be maintained.

She has been offered asylum from several countries and was expected to leave the country if it was released.

Her daughter Eisham Ashiq had previously told AFP’s news agency if she was released: “I’ll hug her and will cry meet her and thank God for releasing her.”

But the family said they feared for their safety and would probably need to leave Pakistan.

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