Asia Bibi, Christian Mother-of-Five, Appeals to Pakistan Supreme Court to Reconsider Death Sentence

( [email protected] ) Nov 24, 2014 02:33 PM EST
Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after Muslim coworkers accused her of blasphemy. Photo:

Asia Bibi, the Christian woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan, has appealed to the country's Supreme Court against her sentence.

The young mother of five was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim co-workers in a berry field 60 miles west of Lahore beat her when she refused to convert to Islam. She has been on death row since November 2010 after being found guilty of insulting the prophet Mohammed. A high court in Lahore confirmed the death sentence last month and the appeal to the Supreme Court represents her last hope.

Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, said in the petition his client had asked the court to "reconsider deficiencies in the case including allegedly manipulated evidence and a delay between the time of the incident and its investigation by police." He added that the blasphemy claim was formulated Bibi's enemies to target her and had reliable basis.

"We expect an early hearing of the appeal and hope that the proceedings will be over in one year," Malook said.

According to the AP, the case first arose when Bibi was working in a field and became involved in an argument with some Muslim women over whether a Christian woman should fetch water for Muslims. The women later went to a local imam and accused Bibi of blasphemy.

The young mother's husband, Ashiq Masih, has also petitioned Pakistan's president, Mamoon Hussain, to reconsider the decision.

"We are Christians but we respect Islam. Our neighbours are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village," he wrote on November 17.

"But for some years now the situation in Pakistan has changed because of just a few people, and we are afraid. Today many of our Muslim friends cannot understand why the Pakistani justice system is making our family suffer so much."

He continued: "We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water."

According to BBC News, "scores" of Christians have been found guilty of desecrating the Koran or of blasphemy since 1990.

The offense, which often carries life in prison or the death penalty as punishment, has been widely used to target religious minorities, which account for 50 percent of those accused of blasphemy.

Since 2002, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has called on the administration to designate Pakistan a "country of particular concern," a step that would make it eligible for sanctions or other measures intended to prod governments to stop violating religious freedom.