Pakistan’s highest court is set to hear the appeal of Asia Bibi, who is facing a death sentence for blasphemy.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the appeal hearing is set to be heard on Wednesday, July 22nd. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, confirmed the date of the hearing to the Organization for Legal Aid, who will also be present in court.
Working as a farmhand in June 2009, she was asked to fetch water for some of her co-workers. She complied, but some of her Muslim colleagues refused to drink the water as they considered Christians to be “unclean.” Some arguments ensued (there was already a running feud between Bibi and a neighbor over property damage), and witnesses maintain that Bibi verbally abused the two women, their religion, and the prophet Muhammad.
A few days later, complaints were made to a cleric about these alleged derogatory comments, resulting in a mob coming to her house and beating her and members of her family. Bibi was rescued by the police but, under pressure from the crowd, they charged her under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the country’s notorious anti-blasphemy law.
In 2010, Bibi was sentenced to death and in 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld her conviction.
Many in the international community have called for her release, given that the country’s blasphemy laws have been used in the past to falsely accuse and persecute Christians.
While the Supreme Court of Pakistan has never upheld a death penalty conviction in blasphemy cases, there are heightened fears of attacks against Bibi.
The ACLJ reported that a leading Muslim cleric in Pakistan has offered a reward for anyone who kills Bibi, even as she sits on death row. Governmor Salman Taseer of the Punjab province, was murdered by one his own security guards for advocating on Bibi’s behalf. The ACLJ appealed to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, calling on them to see that justice is done.
“We are calling on the Court to take into consideration Asia’s testimony that she did not, and had no intention to, violate the law; that the two eye-witnesses who testified against her were never cross-examined; and that the trial court gave more weight to the testimony of her accusers than Asia’s testimony,” they stated.
The legal organization also called on the Pakistani government to provide adequate security for Bibi and her family.
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On the Web:
To sign a petition or make a donation for Asia Bibi’s cause, go to: http://beheardproject.com/bibi#sign