Keep Praying for Aasia Bibi

On 31 October 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam. Mrs Bibi, who is barred from leaving Pakistan, has been in hiding since. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and other groups organised violent protests following her acquittal, making death threats against her and the judges who had reached the verdict.

A lawyer representing a provincial cleric in Punjab who had filed the initial blasphemy charges against Mrs Bibi has petitioned the Supreme Court requesting that the judges review her acquittal. Similar reviews have taken years to process.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, Joseph Nadeem and his family, who have assisted Mrs Bibi and her husband for some years, are themselves in danger and living in hiding together with the daughters of Mrs Bibi. “Just as soon as Aasia was acquitted, we were forced to flee”, he recalls. “Aasia and her husband are currently in a place of safety, protected by the government, but we could not remain with them”, he explains. Ever since then Mr Nadeem and his family, together with the daughters of Aasia, have had to keep on the move, changing homes four times so far.

Several countries have offered asylum to Mrs Bibi and her family, but some Brtish newspapers have claimed that British Prime Minister Theresa May refused an appeal by Home Secretary Sajid Javid to offer Mrs Bibi and her family asylum in the UK. They allege that the request was turned down by the Prime Minister over fears that it could stir up tensions among British Muslims and compromise the safety of British officials in Islamabad. During Prime Minister’s Questions, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith asked the Prime Minister if there was any truth to the reports. She replied that he ‘should not necessarily believe everything he reads in the papers’ and insisted that Britain was working for the ‘safety and security’ of Mrs Bibi and her family. Rehman Chishti resigned as Conservative Party Vice Chairman and the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Pakistan, citing Britain’s failure to offer asylum to Mrs Bibi as one of the reasons.

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.

For more information and guidance on how to pray, see this Barnabas Fund article.

Pakistan Supreme Court Reserves Judgment in Aasia Bibi Case

Today, 8 October, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reserved judgment in the blasphemy case lodged against death-row convict Aasia Bibi.

Bibi,  a mother of four, became the first woman to be sentenced to death when she was convicted of blasphemy in November 2010.

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 lionises 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.

During the two hours, 45 minutes hearing, a three-judge special bench highlighted several discrepancies in the statements of prosecution and court witnesses in the case.

An expert in criminal law, Justice Khosa noted that the prosecution case was weak due to discrepancies in the statements of their witnesses. The statements, he observed, lacked details about the quarrel between Aasia and the accusers.

Justice Khosa pointed out that there were two versions about the filing of the complaint: the first one said the application was given to police near a river while the second stated that the application was submitted in a police station.

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

Bibi has always denied blaspheming and her representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and that her accusers had contradicted themselves.

Based on reports by The Express Tribune and Reuters.

Pakistan Supreme Court Suspends Asia Bibi Death Sentence

Pakistan’s supreme court has suspended the death sentence passed on Asia Bibi when she was found guilty of blasphemy in 2010. The court has granted her leave to appeal and has ordered an examination of all records pertaining to the incident that led to the charge of blasphemy, according to her lawyer.

Asia Bibi’s husband fears locals will beat her to death even if she is acquitted. He claims clerics have put a bounty on her head.

Asia Bibi Faces Supreme Court

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy after proclaiming her faith in God, has been given the chance to appeal for her freedom after spending six years in prison.

The 50-year-old Bibi, a mother of five children, will face the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 22, to challenge for one last time her penalty of death by hanging, and to plead that she be freed.

We urge you to sign a petition in support of her.

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