Monday, 18 November, 2019


Islamist radicals defy Imran, choke Pakistan over blasphemy acquittal

Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy against Islam Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy against Islam
Bennie Garza | 02 November, 2018, 09:32

In a landmark decision the Supreme Court of Pakistan has acquitted Christian Woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy charge thus cancelling her death sentence. Her trial came after her neighbors accused her of insulting the prophet Muhammad.

The leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party, which has launched street protests in reaction to the ruling, also called for Prime Minister Imran Khan's government to be ousted over the case.

While this is a day of victory and celebration for Asia Bibi, her family, and all those who have relentlessly prayed for her, Asia and Christians in Pakistan need continued prayers.

"Writing for CNN, notable Pakistani journalist Rafia Zakaria has said, "...

"Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges", said Nisar, reading out the judgment.

Among the countries to offer asylum include France and Spain.

She has also been a target for hardline Islamists in Pakistan, who have vowed to retaliate if she's released. It led to an argument that culminated with the Muslim woman going to a local cleric and accusing Bibi of blasphemy. "Will they let me out, really?" she said.

He had called for her to be pardoned and for the blasphemy laws to be overhauled.

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

Protests were staged in major cities across Pakistan with club-wielding demonstrators blocking Islamabad's main highway and barricading roads in Karachi and Lahore.

She appealed to the Lahore High Court, which upheld the decision in October 2014, with the case ending up at the Supreme Court.

There are still roughly 40 other people on death row, or serving life sentences for blasphemy in Pakistan, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Pakistan, has drawn widespread condemnation. Saeed is the founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

Saluting the courage of the judges in acquitting Asia Bibi in the face of fierce opposition from Islamist protestors, he added: "It is important that justice is not just seen to be done but is done". Many Christian schools have warned parents to go and get their children from school because they would wish to close the buildings for fear of violence.

"Saying that the judges of the Supreme Court are "Wajib ul Qatl" (Worthy of death) and terming the army chief as "non-Muslim", and calling for a revolt against the chief justice and army chief.This is unacceptable", Geo TV quoted the Pakistan prime minister as saying. Rizvi has turned out tens of thousands of supporters before, often forcing authorities to bow to his demands on religious matters.

Seven people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in clashes with the police, and TLP's supporters only dispersed after striking a deal with the military.

At least two government officials have been assassinated after speaking out in her case.

"I expected him (Imran Khan) to deliver a speech today along the lines of what he said yesterday, and for me to be able say: Qadam barhao, Imran Khan, hum tumharay saath hain (Step ahead, Imran Khan, we are with you)".

Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, has gone into hiding as the extremists had threatened his life as well.

Bibi was sentenced to death by a district court in the central province of Punjab in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Two Muslim women refused to drink from a container used by a Christian, and a few days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy.

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