Pak’s Asia Bibi hanging confirmed for ‘blasphemy’

November 6, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Asia BibiNew Delhi, October 17, 2014: A Pakistani Christian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy after making derogatory remarks about Islam to her Muslim neighbours.

Asia Bibi lost her appeal to have the decision overturned, the Mail online reported.

In 2010, she got into a dispute with neighbours after they objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. She was later accused of defiling the name of the prophet Mohammed.

She became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.

The case hit global headlines after two politicians who tried to help here were assassinated, one of them by his own bodyguard.

The killer was showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in the court and the judge who convicted him of murder had to flee the country.

Naeem Shakir, Bibi’s lawyer, said her accusers have contradicted themselves.

Two witnesses allegedly involved in the incident did not appear in court, the Mail quoted him as saying.

But Gulam Mustafa, the lawyer for the complainant, said the court’s decision was correct.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence. There are no penalties for false accusations.

Those accused are sometimes lynched on the spot. If they are arrested, police and the courts often allow trials to drag on for years, afraid of being attacked if they release anyone accused of blasphemy.

Her case dates back to June 2009 when she drank water from a well after fruit-picking under a blazing sun.

Bibi – a farm worker from rural Punjab – was snubbed by her neighbours and co-workers, for drinking water from the same well and the cup because she is a non-Muslim.

She was accused of dirtying the water.

She was later thrown into a prison cell and has remained locked up ever since, despite insisting that she did not insult their religion.

– indiatoday

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