The Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence for blasphemy. After a nine-year-long battle, Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is free to go.
Asia Bibi was arrested in 2009 and convicted in 2010 under section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code that punishes blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad with the death penalty. She was sentenced to execution by hanging. Asia had been accused of speaking disparagingly about the Prophet but her real crime was that she offered water to Muslim co-workers who believed Asia had made the water ceremonially unclean by drinking from the same cup. They asked her to convert to Islam, which Asia refused. Five days after this argument between the women, a Muslim cleric lodged a complaint against Asia after a mob of Muslims beat her and forced her to confess.
After an initial decision in her favor, an appeal was made by Muslim extremists, which brought the case to the Supreme Court.
“Let me state clearly that Asia Bibi remains at a safe place in Pakistan,” the spokesperson said during a press briefing.
But, she’s not out of the woods yet.
The ACLJ, which has worked for Bibi’s release released a statement:
While this is a day of victory and celebration for Asia Bibi, her family, and all those who have relentlessly prayed for her, Asia and Christians in Pakistan need continued prayers. Today’s verdict will not make many in Pakistan happy. The death threats that have been issued against Asia and the justices should be taken seriously.
CNN reports that foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal confirmed Thursday that Bibi is a “free woman.”
“She is a free woman now,” Faisal said. “Her writ is being heard. When a decision is made, she will go wherever she wants to go. It is a free country; she is a free national. She can go wherever she wants to go. No one can object to that. If a free national of Pakistan wants to go somewhere, he/she has to get a visa and go. Nothing odd about that.”