Aasia Bibi Acquitted
On 31 October, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam.
Bibi, a mother of four, has been living on death row since 2010 when she became the first woman to be sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan’s draconian 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.
The judges said the prosecution had “categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt”. The case was based on flimsy evidence, they said, and proper procedures had not been followed. The alleged confession was delivered in front of a crowd “threatening to kill her”.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisarm, who read out the ruling, said Bibi could walk free from prison immediately if not wanted in connection with any other case.
On 13 October, Khadim Rizvi, the leader of a new political party dedicated to punishing blasphemy, Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), announced he would “paralyse the country within hours” if Bibi was freed. She has been offered asylum by several countries and was expected to leave the country if acquitted.
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