Date: May 13, 2017
More than 600,000 have signed a petition for her release
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
LONDON, UK (ANS - May 13, 2017) -- Pakistani Christian mother, Asia Bibi, was accused of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman over a glass of water.
She has been on death row since 2010, and campaigners have called for the mother-of-two to be hanged as her case continues to be held up in Pakistan’s courts, according to Katie Mansfield, writing for Britain’s "Express" newspaper (www.express.co.uk) .
Bibi’s attorney Saiful Malook says Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar declined his client's request for an early appeal hearing sparking fears for the Christian’s life.
The Express newspaper reports that if the Supreme Court upholds Bibi’s conviction her only chance of survival is to appeal to Pakistan’s president for clemency.
Malook said: “I have been informed that the plea was declined by the CJP.”
The Express says if the death penalty is carried out, the mother of five, also known as Aasiya Noreen, could become the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully executed for blasphemy. More than 600,000 people have signed a petition calling for Bibi to be released. Her hearing has been delayed at least seven times in the last two years.
Joseph Nadeem, executive director of the Renaissance Education Foundation, told the Asia-based Catholic news outlet www.ucanews.com: “This is very unfortunate. Her husband became quiet when he heard the latest developments.
“We shall again apply for the hearing and keep struggling for justice. There are many factors at work behind the slow pace of judiciary. Her case has been in the doldrums due to huge pressure,” Nadeem said, adding: “There will be a strong reaction if Bibi is freed, opposing groups have made it a matter of honor and ego.”
The newspaper explained that critics of Pakistan's blasphemy laws say they have long been used by individuals and religious groups to settle disputes.
Lawyer Naeem Shakir told www.ucanews.com: “Such atrocities have become routine. The plight of Bibi has had a dampening effect on minorities.”
He added: “Their grief cannot be addressed because of religious retrogressive and extremist groups. Islamists consider her freedom a defeat for their movement.”
Photo captions: 1) Asia Bibi's death row ordeal has been extended (Open Doors/AFP). 2) Her husband has been in hiding. (AFP) 3) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.