Update: Bibi has been placed on a no-fly list to prevent her from leaving the country after Islamists protested the ruling: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/pakistan-woman-accused-of-blasphemy-on-no-fly-list-after-lawyer-flees
A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarized the nation.
Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbors.
The verdict, which was reached in a district court needed to be upheld by a superior court, had received worldwide attention. Various petitions, including one that received 400,000 signatures, were organized to protest Noreen’s imprisonment, and Pope Benedict XVI publicly called for the charges against her to be dismissed. She received less sympathy from her neighbors and Islamic religious leaders in the country, some of whom adamantly called for her to be executed. Minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer were both assassinated for advocating on her behalf and opposing the blasphemy laws. Noreen’s family went into hiding after receiving death threats, some of which threatened to kill Asia if released from prison.
The BBC reports:
The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.
Demonstrations against the verdict are being held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan. Clashes with police have been reported.
The Red Zone in the capital Islamabad, where the Supreme Court is located, has been sealed off by police, and paramilitary forces have been deployed to keep protesters away from the court.
She was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 31 October 2018, which also ruled that “she was free to go, if not wanted in connection with any other case”