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Decision on Aasia Bibi’s Fate ‘Indefinitely Adjourned’ by Pak SC

Pakistani Christian Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death for insulting Prophet Muhammad in an argument over water.

Updated
World
3 min read
The daughters of Aasia Bibi with an image of their mother outside their residence in Sheikhupura located in Pakistan’s Punjab province on 13 November 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Thursday, adjourned the hearing of the final plea against the execution of Aasia Bibi, who was convicted under the blasphemy law six years ago.

Bibi, a member of the Christian community in Pakistan, was sentenced to death in 2010 for insulting Prophet Muhammad during a fight over water with women of the Muslim community in her village, Itanwali in Punjab.

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The hearing has been adjourned for an indefinite period as Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman recused himself from the case because he was also part of the bench that had heard the case of Salmaan Taseer, who was killed by his own police guard for supporting Bibi.

If the Supreme Court of Pakistan rejects her plea, Bibi will have to approach Mamnoon Hussain, President of Pakistan for clemency.

Islamabad’s Lal Masjid has warned the government against releasing Aasia Bibi. The Shuhada Foundation has said it will take to the streets and disrupt government functioning if she is released. The foundation was formed after the 2007 raid of Lal Masjid by Pakistani security forces.

Scuffle Over Water Leads to National Outrage

In June 2009, Bibi worked as a labourer in the fields and the wife of the landowner asked Bibi to fetch drinking water. When Bibi did as she was told, the Muslim women workers refused to drink from or touch the container, claiming she had contaminated it with her touch, reports The Telegraph.

Five days after the incident, Bibi found herself amid an angry mob around her house accusing her of insulting Prophet Muhammad.

The mob alleged that she had spoken of Jesus, who had resurrected unlike Prophet Muhammad, who died and never returned. The angry mob wanted Bibi to “recant and convert to Islam”.

Police, who soon reached the spot, protected Bibi until they gave in to the pressure from the angry mob and arrested her.

Media reports have claimed that evidence from two witnesses in the case, who were proved to be absent during the altercation, were contradictory.

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Pakistan Polarised

Bibi’s case has polarised the country of Pakistan with liberals fighting for her and the conservatives gunning for Bibi and her supporters.

One such supporter was Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab. He was killed by his own police guard in 2011 for supporting Bibi and seeking reforms in Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

Taseer’s security guard, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged in March this year for his murder. His funeral drew thousands of supporters.

People attend the funeral ceremony of former police guard Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 1 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)
People attend the funeral ceremony of former police guard Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 1 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Taseer’s son was kidnapped, held captive and tortured by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) for nearly five years.

  • Unus, the brother of Aasia Bibi, with his children at their residence in Ittanwalai, Punjab Province of Pakistan on 13 November 2010. (Photo: Reuters)
  • Najma holds a family picture with sister-in-law of Aasia Bibi at their residence in Ittanwalai, Punjab Province on Pakistan on 13 November 2010. (Photo: Reuters)
  • Unus and Najma with their children at their residence in Ittanwalai, Punjab Province, Pakistan on 13 November 2010. (Photo: Reuters)
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Bibi’s Family Holds on to Hope

Bibi has claimed that this was personal vendetta against her and that she never said what she has been accused of saying. Activists in the country also believe that the blasphemy law is misused to falsely implicate Christians.

Bibi’s family of five children and husband has lived in hiding for the past six years. Speaking from an undisclosed location, her husband Ashiq Masih, who has approached the President of Pakistan with Bibi’s case, told The Telegraph:

I have great hopes in the supreme court and I am very hopeful that justice will done to my wife. She has been living a miserable life in jail for many years. I want justice for the mother of my five children.

Pope Francis met the family and offered prayers for her release. In 2010, the Pope’s predecessor had also called for her release.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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