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.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103