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After a decade in prison, Asia Bibi is free

Wed 31 Oct 2018
By Alex Williams

A Christian woman who spent eight years on death row after being accused of insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammad has been acquitted by Pakistan's highest court.

The Supreme Court in Islamabad ordered the release of Asia Bibi from an undisclosed jail on Wednesday. Her whereabouts has been kept secret for security reasons.

Tahir Khalil Singh, one of Asia Bibi's lawyers, told Premier: "I am so satisfied. Thanks to Jesus Christ that she is acquitted.

 

"But... the years she spent in the jail behind the bars in the isolation cell without her children, without his her everything - who will be responsible for these years?"

Mrs Bibi was arrested in 2009 following a row with Muslim women who accused her of making a water cup unclean for them because she had used it.

It was claimed Mrs Bibi made three blasphemous comments about the Prophet Muhammad in the quarrel which followed. Bibi was later convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

Speaking to Premier from Islamabad, Mehwish Bhatti from the British Pakistani Christian Association said: "There are so many blasphemy victims - Christian victims - who are still in prison and are on death sentence like Asia Bibi.

"We need to keep them in [our] prayers as well."

Hard-line Islamists, who had been demanding her execution, had threatened nationwide protests if Asia Bibi was acquitted.

It is a case which has drawn international attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and divided the nation.

Two senior politicians - a governor and a minister of minorities - who spoke out in support of Bibi were assassinated in 2011.

Under the law in Pakistan, insulting Islam is punishable by death.

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