By Farhan from Karachi, Pakistan – Are they independent – Karachi Jail, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4292206
Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, has had her appeal before the nation’s supreme court delayed pending a new hearing, after one of the judges recused himself from the case.
The Bibi case has emerged as one of Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s most controversial indictments as she is the first woman sentenced under blasphemy laws. In 2010, officials accused Bibi of insulting the Prophet Muhammad while arguing with Muslim women over a cup of water. She was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Her husband and five children are in hiding.
Though the government has never executed people for blasphemy, violent Muslims have lynched people for this alleged crime.
Fearing violence related to the supreme court’s decision, the government deployed 3,000 troops to the capital.
“Security is very tight in Islamabad all around today,” a police source told AFP news agency. “Additional troops have been deployed on checkpoints and city junctions in general. There is also deployment of paramilitary force Rangers and FC [Frontier Corps] on some additional points.”
Christians are a minority in Pakistan, and rights groups say the blasphemy laws give opponents a license for personal vendettas.
Should the Supreme Court overturn Bibi’s conviction, many fear violent responses as most Pakistanis see this case as a battle for the nation’s soul. Muslim clerics pledge to lead the potential protest and shut down the government.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) led a 24-hour prayer vigil for Bibi on the day before her scheduled court date. CSW’s objective is to support religious freedom for “all peoples of all faiths.”
The government has given no indication of when the supreme court will reconvene and hear the Bibi case.
Pray for Asia Bibi and her family as she languishes on death row awaiting her court date, and for justice in Pakistan that upholds free speech and religious freedom.