Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Asia Bibi: Pakistan Acquits Christian Woman Facing Death Penalty For Blasphemy

Asia Bibi: Pakistan Acquits Christian Woman Facing Death Penalty For Blasphemy

And we ask each and every one of you to please pray for Asia Bibi's safety as you rejoice at her release. The timing of her release was not been shared due to security reasons.

But it was when Bibi pulled up some water from a nearby well, dipped her cup into the bucket and drank, that she heard the shouts.

Most schools and businesses have remained shut for a third consecutive day across Pakistan, as demonstrations against the acquittal of Christian woman accused of blasphemy continue in major cities.

Hafiz Sae, an influential Islamist whom the U.S. accuses of being the mastermind of attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166, has called for protests after Friday afternoon prayers.

Supporters of Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP), which was founded to support Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, immediately condemned the ruling and blocked roads in Karachi, the country's largest city, and in the city of Lahore. Bibi's case has been deeply divisive in Pakistan where there is strong support for the controversial blasphemy laws. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged for the crime, but later was hailed by religious hard-liners as a martyr, with millions visiting a shrine set up for him near Islamabad.

Ahead of the verdict, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a hardline cleric who has brought tens of thousands of people into the streets for past rallies, called on his supporters to gather in all major cities to express their love for the Prophet and to protest if Bibi is released.

Security has been stepped up near the facility where Ms Bibi is being held, authorities said. A road linking Islamabad and Rawalpindi was closed off by the protesters. Residents were also urged to stay indoors as TLP protesters continued to vandalise in various cities.

On Friday, some 5,000 Islamists rallied in the capital, Islamabad and almost 4,000 demonstrators staged a sit-in in Lahore, demanding that Bibi's acquittal verdict be overturned.

Pakistani police officers stand guard outside the supreme court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 31, 2018.

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Barnabas Fund has been providing monthly food parcels for Aasia Bibi's family for many years, as her father is unable to work because he is in hiding as a likely target for assassination being the husband of an alleged "blasphemer". In previous hearings her attorney, Saiful Malook, pointed to contradictions in testimony from witnesses.

The woman told her she should convert to Islam and "redeem herself". "They are using language that enemies use. only for their self serving politics", he said.

Bibi herself was not in the court when the ruling was announced but was reportedly in disbelief when she received news of her own acquittal in the prison cell.

Bibi's case gained prominence when former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 for supporting her and criticising the blasphemy laws.

The court has set no dates to take up the petition, but Bibi's release could be further delayed by the process.

"I am very happy".

"We are very happy". "We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice".

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar came to an "inescapable and irresistible" conclusion that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Bibi recalled that when they disparaged her Christianity, she answered, "I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind".

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