Pakistan acquits Christian woman Bibi in iconic blasphemy case

31 October, 2018, 12:16 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Pak Supreme Court To Rule On Christian Woman Facing Death Over Blasphemy

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday (Oct 31) overturned the conviction of a Christian mother facing execution for blasphemy in a landmark case which has incited deadly violence and reached as far as the Vatican.

Justice Nisar while reading out the verdict said, "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. The judgment of high court as well as trial court is reversed.

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.

Asia Bibi's case drew the attention of global rights groups and swiftly became the most high-profile in the country.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumor of blasphemy can ignite lynchings.

On October 13, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a political party, had threatened to "paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asia Bibi free", according to Dawn.

A journalist who visited her in prison before the verdict said she appeared to have memory loss and confusion. Asia Bibi, an internationally known Christian victim of false blasphemy charges languished in the jail for nearly nine years.

Mulook responded in the negative and said, "She was never a preacher".

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Supreme Court's verdict says that the contradictions are sufficient enough to cast a shadow of doubt on the prosecution's version of fact.

The media has been prevented from discussing the case since the verdict was reserved on 8 October.

Supporters from an extremist Islamist party protest against freeing Asia Bibi.

Ms Bibi's case rose to infamy after a regional governor, Salman Taseer, who appealed for leniency for her was murdered in a public square in the capital by his own bodyguard.

The case has disgusted millions around the world and caused huge division in the majority Muslim country. The two Muslim women who pressed charges against Bibi denied they quarrelled with her, saying her outbursts against Islam were unprovoked.

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

Bibi's 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.

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