Christians across the world have been praying around the clock to save the life of a Pakistani Christian woman imprisoned for her faith for the past eight years, and the Supreme Court ruling today has shown that ‘What God Cannot Do Does Not Exist’.
The Pakistani Supreme Court today, October 31, acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was condemned to death on blasphemy charges since 2010 after her arrest in June 2009.
Asia Bibi was accused of blasphemy and arrested in June 2009 after a row over water with her Muslim co-workers.
The mother of four was convicted and handed death sentence in 2010 after being charged of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her Muslim co-workers. However, she always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel had reserved its ruling on Asia Bibi’s final legal appeal against execution.
The ruling was read out by Chief Justice Saquib Nisar at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, the Capital of Pakistan.
“The judgement of the high court and that of the trial court is reversed,” said the CJP in court, adding that she is to be set free if she is not wanted in any other case. “Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” he added.
The Chief Justice ordered that Ms Bibi should be released if she has not committed any other crime.
Her acquittal is expected to meet significant opposition from the public in Pakistan, many of whom support the harsh law.
The landmark ruling has already set off protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.
Hardline religious clerics have urged people to take to the streets in protest.
The capital, Islamabad, is now under high security due to fears of violence ensuing.
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.
Bibi 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.
What was Asia Bibi’s Crime?
Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after an argument with her Muslim co-workers who refused to drink from the same water bowl with her. They claimed it was contaminated because she’s a Christian.
They were harvesting fruit when a row broke out about a bucket of water. The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean.
When Bibi defended her faith, the workers accused her of insulting the Islamic prophet Mohmmed. She was soon arrested on blasphemy charges and sentenced to death by a local judge.
Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.
She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation.
Continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family for their safety in the community as many hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws would still seek her death.