Asia Bibi's Appeal Against Blasphemy Charges to Be Heard by Pakistan Supreme Court
(Photo : 'ImposterVT'/Flickr/CC) The Pakistani Supreme Court is located in Islamabad.
The Pakistani Supreme Court will be hearing Asia Bibi's final appeal on October 13th. Bibi is a Christian woman who was given the death penalty on alleged charges of blasphemy about six years ago.
In 2009, Bibi was accused of blaspheming by her co-workers in the falsa berry fields where she worked.
According to an ACLJ account, she wanted to serve water to her co-workers, but they thought that the water was rendered impure by her touching the bucket. Bibi was asked to convert to Islam to be purified. She refused and professed her faith publicly. According to ACLJ:
Asia, who was picking berries, took a break from her work to get a drink of water and offered some water to the other women working with her. Her co-workers informed Asia that they could not drink water from the hands of a Christian woman, because, by handling it, she had made the water haram. Asia's co-workers then demanded that she convert to Islam to be cleansed of her impurity. Asia refused and instead publically affirmed her faith in Jesus Christ.
Five days later, the women who had confronted her over the water incident brought an Islamic cleric with them and alleged that Bibi has insulted Prophet Muhammad. Bibi said she did not do that, but she was subsequently beaten by villagers and taken into custody.
The following year a local court pronounced her guilty and sentenced her to death, even though she denied the charges against her.
Her appeals were delayed many times. When her case was finally heard by the high court in October 2014, her death sentence was upheld. Later, her petition for a legal review by Supreme Court was accepted.
Her conviction for blasphemy charges triggered outrage against her among the Islamic radicals, forcing her family to go in hiding. Fundamentalists have threatened that if Bibi is released, they would kill her and her family.
National and international human rights organizations are urging Pakistan's highest court to release her, while radical Islamic groups are asking the court to put her to death. She is kept in solitary confinement due to concerns about her safety at the hands of other inmates.
Saif ul Malook, Bibi's lawyer, also reported receiving death threats.
Late governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by a radical Islamist Mumtaz Qadri in 2011 for his publicly-expressed sympathy for Bibi. Qadri was Taseer's own bodyguard. Qadri was hanged for murdering the governor of the state, but his capital punishment sparked protests in Punjab.
Pakistan registers as one of the world's highest number of blasphemy cases. Both Muslims and non-Muslims have been accused of blasphemy in the past.