UPDATED – ISLAMABAD (CNS) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld its acquittal of a Pakistani Catholic woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy.
Asia Bibi is now free to leave Pakistan and is expected to join her family in Canada, where they were granted asylum. A Canadian bishop who has worked on arranging for Bibi to live in Canada told The Catholic Register, Canadian Catholic weekly, that the location of Bibi’s daughters and their family friends must remain secret to protect them from Islamic extremists.
AP reported that Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa stood by the court’s Oct. 31 verdict, which criticized the conflicting testimony against Bibi.
“You think we give the death sentence to someone on the basis of false evidence?” he said according to media reports. “Such lies were told that one statement doesn’t match with another.”
Tehreek-e-Labbaik, an extremist group, challenged the Oct. 31 acquittal. Protests erupted after the original acquittal, and the BBC reported that, after the Jan. 29 decision, Pakistan’s electronic media were downplaying the story “in a concerted move to forestall public unrest.”
The ordeal of Bibi, who worked as a farmhand, began in June 2009 when she was accused of insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, after Muslim co-workers objected to her drinking from a common water supply because she is a Christian.
Bibi was rescued from a mob by police, only to be sentenced to death in 2010 for violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which makes insulting Muhammad a capital offense.
No one has been executed under the law so far, but Christians who are falsely accused often are lynched or spend many years in prison.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: