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(Voice of the Persecuted) We were informed early this morning that the Supreme Court adjourned Asia Bibi’s hearing of the final appeal against her execution. The Christian woman and mother of five, was accused of blasphemy, convicted and sentenced to hang in 2010 after an argument in June 2009 with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Bibi and her supporters have always maintained her innocence.
The hearing was postponed after Justice Iqbal Hamid-ur-Rehman, refused to be a part of the three-member bench. He told the court,
“I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that.”
The case has been referred back to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. It’s unclear when the hearing will resume.
Muslim hardliners threatened to take to the streets and not allow the government to function if the Christian woman was released. That the mosque would mobilize public opinion. They also threatened of “serious consequences” if Bibi was allowed to go abroad.
Hundreds of security forces had been deployed in Islamabad to maintain law and order.
Sources in Pakistan told Voice of the Persecuted,
“It clearly shows how much our government and court is concerned about the minority. They don’t care for the feelings a woman who is spending every single second in the hope of getting free and uniting back to family. We can’t imagine how she has spent such a long period in jail knowing she has committed no sin. How much more punishment does the Pakistani government want to give? She has lost seven precious years of her life. It’s very normal for a person in authority to treat someone in such a pathetic way. It’s normal in Pakistan.”
Voice of the Persecuted will keep you updated on Asia’s case. Thank you to all who have been praying for Asia, this appeal trail and her release. We encourage you to keep praying for her and her family.
The trial had already been postponed twice, but Naeem Shakir, the Christian woman’s lawyer, in statements to the Fides Agency, was hopeful that the scheduled session would take place. According to the news agency, quoting her attorney, Asia Bibi in the women’s prison of Multan “is in good health and safe conditions”. The lawyer added that “she prays and hopes”.
The reprobation of Asia has rallied people and institutions around the world. On March 19, the European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief asked, “to all those who are involved in the case, to give a proof of courage and not give in to any pressure or external threat”. They asked the Pakistani Government to “protect the independence and proper functioning of the Supreme Court of Lahore”, and urge the Pakistani authorities to provide adequate protection to all persons involved in the case, now and after a possible, future judicial decision “.
Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010. It all started when Bibi was engaged in a discussion with Muslim women. In revenge, it was accused that the Christian, Bibi had blasphemed against Islam, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. The law against blasphemy has been the target of much criticism in Pakistan. Until now, nobody has been executed for this crime, but several of the people charged were murdered in prison or after they were released.
An appeal in the case of unsupported blasphemy charges, has been postponed after her accuser failed to appear in court, the Fides news service reported.
Imprisoned for years, Asia Bibi’s children are missing their mother and praying to see her at home. Our hearts break for the disappointment they must be feeling today.
Attorneys for the mother of five, jailed since 2009 when neighbors accused her of blaspheming their prophet, were prepared to argue for her release in Lahore High Court. But because the Muslim who submitted the original legal complaint against her was not present, the judges postponed the hearing—again.
“We remain very confident, from a legal point of view,” the lawyers for Bibi told Fides. They are encouraged for the opportunity to put the case before the appeals court. Bibi supporters believe the lower courts have been intimidated by Muslim extremists.