Christian woman faces death for blasphemy
ITTAN WALLI, Pakistan – In early November, in the dusty city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s heartland, Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian woman and mother of five, was sentenced to death by hanging under the country’s blasphemy laws.
Her crime? She allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
Bibi, 45, is the first woman condemned to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. While no one has ever been executed, most of the accused – all men – languish in prison alone and forgotten. Human rights groups point out that the law is a convenient way to settle scores, often among the Christian community who total about 2 million of Pakistan’s 175 million people.
So far, the Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti submitted a report on the case to Zardari. He concluded that the charges were baseless. In an interview with NBC News, he said that Bibi could be released on appeal in the high court. “We should wait for the court proceedings but if the court delays then the president may pardon her on the basis that she is innocent,” he said.
Bhatti is well aware of the possible consequences of an acquittal. Judges have been assassinated for freeing victims and several accused persons have been gunned down inside prisons or outside courtrooms as they walked free.
Read it all.