Pakistani court pardons Christian woman on death row for blasphemy

World Today

Pakistan Christians pray for Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy in Multan, Pakistan. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Irum Asim)

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted for breaking the country’s blasphemy laws. She was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and had been on death row for the eight years.

Wednesday’s landmark ruling drew praise from human rights activists, but triggered protests and death threats from the hard line religious party.

CGTN’s Danial Khan filed this report from Islamabad.

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five, was on death row since 2010. She was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009. A trial court found her guilty of the crime and gave her the death sentence.

In 2011, the Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who spoke in support of Bibi, was gunned down in Islamabad. Bibi’s lawyers approached the Supreme Court as a last resort, seeking a reversal of her sentence.

A special, three-member Supreme Court bench acquitted Bibi, after accepting her 2015 appeal against the sentence. Despite being released, her family believes that their lives are now in more danger than before.

A number of protests have broken out across the country, demanding the Supreme Court’s decision be reversed. hardcore right-wing religious parties including the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam among others have reportedly started rallies across the country. A number of main roads and highways have been closed down, shipping containers have been placed along sensitive government buildings, as the religious parties have announced a countrywide protest.

Raza Rumi discusses Pakistani court pardon of woman accused of blasphemy

CGTN Mike Walter spoke to Raza Rumi about the Pakistani Supreme Court decision on blashempy. Rumi is a policy analyst and author from Pakistan. He also teaches at Cornell University and is an Editor at the Daily Times of Pakistan.