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Christian Mother Asia Bibi Gets Final Chance to Appeal Her Blasphemy Case to Pakistan’s Supreme Court

( [email protected] ) Jul 22, 2015 10:57 AM EDT
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death for supposedly making blasphemous remarks about Islam. However, she has been granted a final chance to appeal her case on Wednesday to the country’s Supreme Court and possibly win her freedom.
Asia Bibi's daughters pose with a photograph of their mother. CNS

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death for supposedly making blasphemous remarks about Islam. However, she has been granted a final chance to appeal her case on Wednesday to the country's Supreme Court and possibly win her freedom.

According to a report from Pakistan's Christian Times, 50-year-old Bibi, the mother of five children, has been imprisoned due to blasphemy charges for the last six years. The appeal to Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday could be her last chance on whether she walks out free or faces the death penalty.

"The famous lawyer Saif-ul-Malook would defend Asia's case," Christian Times wrote. "Saif-ul-Malook is a famous lawyer who was a successful lawyer as well for obtaining the punishment of Mumtaz Quardri, the murderer of Salman Taseer (who actually was trying to save Asia Bibi in the past)."

Christian Times reported that the court "will solve Asia Bibi's case in two or three hearings." Pakistani lawyer Nadeem Anthony indicated that both parties involved in the case would get notices.

"After two weeks, the hearing of Asia's case would get start again," Christian Times wrote. "Nadeem Anthony is caring [for] this case under the guidelines of Advocate Nameen Shaker in high court."

According to Shaheryar Gill of the American Center for Law and Justice, Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after she offered a Muslim co-worker a drink of water. During that event, her other colleagues accused her of saying blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, which carries a mandatory death sentence under Pakistani law.

"A trial court sentenced Asia Bibi to death in November 2010 and the Lahore High Court (the appellate level court) upheld her conviction in October 2014," Gill wrote.

ACLJ added that it has "been aggressively fighting across the world for her freedom, demanding Pakistan overturn her death sentence and release her." The legal organization noted that Bibi's high-profile case would make her "very vulnerable to an attack by Muslims."

"The Supreme Court has never upheld the death penalty in blasphemy cases," Gill wrote, citing legal precedent.

However, ACLJ pointed out that people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan have been murdered.

"In the past, numerous individuals accused of blasphemy have been murdered," Gill wrote. "In April 1994, three Christians were shot as they left the Lahore High Court; one of the Christians, Manznoor Masih, was killed, while the other two (Rehmat Masih and Salamat Masih) were injured. The High Court Justice who reversed their convictions was later shot and killed in his office."

According to ACLJ, "numerous others have been killed, but most perpetrators have never been apprehended or brought to justice." Regardless of the ruling, one Muslim cleric in Pakistan dared to place a bounty on Bibi's head.

"He announced a prize of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 500,000 (approximately $100 to $5,000) for anyone who kills Asia," Gill wrote. "Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab province, was murdered by his own security guard for advocating on behalf of Asia Bibi and calling for the repeal of blasphemy laws."

ACLJ hoped that Pakistan's Supreme Court would "see the injustice done to Asia and her family" and "reverse her conviction." The organization has set up a petition where people can express their solidarity with her.

"We also urge the Pakistani government to provide adequate security to Asia and her family," Gill wrote. "Finally, we pray that Asia Bibi's ordeal comes to an end this Wednesday."


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