Pakistani Christian Mother, Asia Bibi, Who has Spent 9 Years on Death Row for ‘Blasphemy’ Charges, has gained global notoriety for the infamously drawn-out blasphemy case that involved her drawing water from a Muslim-designated source.
For the past nine years, she has been on death row, even as international human rights advocates and groups have fought tirelessly to have her exonerated.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was scheduled to hear Bibi’s final appeal, but decided to postpone announcing their ruling until further notice, Reuters reported.
This is coming as a hardline Pakistani Islamist group warned of “terrible consequences” if the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy is granted leniency in the appeal heard on Monday, a case that has drawn global headlines and indignation.
Asia Bibi, a mother of four, in 2010 became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.
She appealed to the Supreme Court which concluded proceedings on Monday but reserved its judgment. The court did not specify when it would announce a ruling.
Her case has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help Bibi were assassinated, including Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was shot by his own bodyguard.
The ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry and lionizes the bodyguard who killed Taseer, warned the court against any “concession or softness” for Bibi.
“If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences,” TLP said in a statement.
Insulting 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.
According to Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, her only “crime” was being a devout Christian in a hostile community where non-Muslims are viewed as “unclean.” In an effort to spread awareness of his wife’s unjust imprisonment, Masih and the couple’s daughter, Eisham Ashiq, have taken many trips to England with the help of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
No Pakistani Christian has been jailed on blasphemy charges longer than Bibi. If she loses her final appeal, she could be put to death. Pakistan’s 295-C blasphemy law is based on sharia (Islamic law) which mandates execution for those found guilty of committing blasphemy against Mohammed.
Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family as they go through this trying times for their faith in Jesus Christ.