Blasphemy Case: Pakistan Supreme Court Overturns Asia Bibi’s Death Sentence

Date:

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. — AP

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy against Islam.

A Christian mother of four, Asia Bibi was convicted and awarded death sentence in 2010 under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The allegations against Asia Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was working in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women who alleged that she had committed blasphemy.

A three-member special bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, announced the reserved judgment in the appeal of Asia Bibi against her conviction.

There was a heavy police presence at the Supreme Court in Islamabad as many feared violence could break out.

People have also been gathering for protests against the verdict in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, and hundreds blocked a road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Dawn newspaper reported.

Asia Bibi, a mother of four, has been living on death row since 2010 when she became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

She was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Ms. Bibi always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisarm, who read out the ruling, said Asia Bibi could walk free from jail in Sheikupura, near Lahore, immediately if not wanted in connection with any other case, reports BBC.

She was not in court to hear the ruling, but reacted to the verdict from prison with apparent disbelief.

“I can’t believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really?” AFP news agency quoted her as saying by phone.

Ms. Bibi’s case also has been high on the agenda of religious hardliners in Pakistan, many of whom are fiercely opposed to her release.

The ultra-Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry, earlier this month warned the court against any “concession or softness” for Ms. Bibi.

“If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences,” TLP said in a statement before Wednesday’s ruling.

Insulting and disrespect to Islam’s prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are almost impossible to defend against. Dozens have been killed following blasphemy claims, sometimes by mobs of men.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law is exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores. The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence.

In February, Ms. Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih and one of her daughters met with Pope Francis shortly before Rome’s ancient Colosseum was lit in red one evening in solidarity with persecuted Christians, and Ms. Bibi in particular. — Agencies

theclarionindia
theclarionindiahttps://clarionindia.net
Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.

Share post:

Popular

More like this
Related

NSUI, SFI, Other Student Bodies Protest in Hyderabad Against NEET Irregularities

HYDERABAD — Various student unions, including the NSUI, SFI,...

Chhattisgarh: Lone Survivor of Raipur Cow Vigilante Attack Succumbs to Injuries

Saddam Qureshi, Chand Miya and Guddu Khan were chased...

NCERT Faces Flak for Controversial Changes in Class XI, XII Textbooks

Congress has slammed the NCERT calling it an “RSS...

IIT Student Faizan’s Death: Hand Over Probe to CBI, Mamata Urged

 A second post-mortem of the exhumed body revealed a...