Blasphemy Case: Asia Bibi freed by Pakistan Supreme Court

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court accepted the 2015 appeal filed by Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Court sets aside her death sentence- Dawn reported. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar set aside the appeal, challenging Lahore High Court’s October 2014 decision, which upheld a trial court’s decision to sentence Bibi to death.”The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” said Pakistan’s Chief Justice Saqib Nisar in the ruling.Blasphemy is an incendiary charge in deeply conservative Muslim Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammed can provoke a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.Bibi was set to be released immediately according to the court, although there was no word if any security arrangements were being made for her protection.

Her legal team celebrated the court’s decision amid beefed-up security in Islamabad after religious hardliners had vowed to protest any acquittal of the case.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.”This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.Her case drew the attention of international rights groups and swiftly became the most high-profile in the country.On a hot day in 2009, Bibi went to get water for her and her fellow farmworkers. After she took a sip, some of the Muslim women became angry that a Christian had drunk from the same container. They demanded she convert, she refused. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy.

She was convicted and sentenced to death.She has since been living in an undisclosed jail in Pakistan due to security reasons. She had moved the Supreme Court against her conviction. In 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province was shot and killed by one of his elite guards for defending Bibi and criticizing misuse of the blasphemy law.Internationally, Bibi’s case has generated outrage. 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.

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