Christian mother to be executed for blasphemy

Catholic leaders in Pakistan will appeal to the nation’s Supreme Court against the death sentence given to a Christian woman for blasphemy.

Last week, the Lahore High Court upheld the sentence handed down in 2010 against Asia Bibi.

She is the first Christian woman ever to be given the death sentence in Pakistan.

One source expressed hope that the sentence would be overturned in the Supreme Court, which has reportedly never upheld a blasphemy charge.

Mrs Bibi, 50, was first arrested in 2009 in a village near Lahore, after colleagues claimed she had insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

This stemmed out of an argument she had with two other women in a fruit field over a drinking glass.

High profile Pakistani politicians Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti spoke up in her defence and were subsequently assassinated in 2011.

Taseer was killed by his own security guard and Bhatti by the Pakistani Taliban.

Mrs Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, said Muslim clerics attending the Lahore hearing had shouted out “blasphemer” and “kill her”.

“I have not told my children about the court decision. How can I? I am too scared of their reaction – they are already very depressed. We all were expecting her to come home and now this happens,” said Mr Masih.

A statement from the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation, a Catholic group named for a critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, expressed disappointment in the ruling.

“We remain optimistic that the rule of law will prevail and justice will be done (when the appeal is heard in the Supreme Court). For now that is our only hope,” said the statement by the Catholic advocacy group.

However, advocates for Mrs Bibi expressed fears that even if she is freed by the Supreme Court, extremists will be given tacit encouragement to pursue and kill her.


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