Pakistan overturns Christian woman’s blasphemy death sentence


Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Catholic woman who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that has divided the South Asian country and sparked global outrage. 30 AM, the court announced that they have acquitted Asia of all charges, demanding her immediate release.

ISLAMABAD: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has put his weight behind the Supreme Court of Pakistan after its landmark judgment in Asia Bibi case.

Reading out the verdict on Wednesday, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said: "The judgement of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed. We knew that she is innocent".

The Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party called for the death of the chief justice and two other judges in Pakistan's highest court after they spared the life of Asia Bibi, 47, who was convicted of blasphemy in 2010.

Her case has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Bibi were assassinated. This verdict has incited protests nationwide, and so we can only hope the next few days pass by peacefully and without any major incident.

While there are hundreds of Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, and even Muslims who have spent long prison terms and many have been killed by religious extremists, the government of Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy.

It is a case which has drawn global attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and divided the nation.

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Pakistan's 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law) which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against Mohammed.

Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.

Ms Bibi's representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and her accusers had contradicted themselves.

Critics of the blasphemy law have said it is used to settle personal scores or to attack minority communities.

On Twitter, a video circulated that showed young men on bikes riding through a dark road and shouting slogans, calling for the death of Asia Bibi.

Her case gained prominence after then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for a retrial of her case and was subsequently shot dead by one of his guards, Mumtaz Qadri, in January, 2011.

"I have been to visit my mother in jail, and she asks the people of Britain to remember her in their prayers", Eisham added.