Pakistan Acquits Christian Sentenced to Die for Blasphemy

Massive protests expected after Asia Bibi freed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2018 12:33 AM CDT
Pakistan Acquits Christian Sentenced to Die for Blasphemy
In this Nov. 20, 2010 photo, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, listens to officials at a prison in Sheikhupura near Lahore, Pakistan.   (AP Photo, File)

Authorities in Pakistan are braced for massive protests after the acquittal of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in 2010 for alleged blasphemy against Islam. Asia Bibi was accused of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed in a 2009 argument with farmworkers who refused to drink water from a container used by a Christian, the BBC reports. Judges on Pakistan's top court ruled that she had been sentenced on flimsy evidence, and a "confession" had been delivered in front of an angry crowd that was threatening to kill her. Her family says she never insulted the prophet.

The judges ordered the release of Bibi, a mother of five who has spent most of the last eight years in solitary confinement. She was moved to an undisclosed location and is expected to leave the country, the AP reports. "I am very happy. My children are very happy," husband Ashiq Masih said. "We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent." Hardline Islamist clerics have called for rallies across the country to protest Bibi's release and security has been stepped up at churches. (In 2011, Pakistan's minister for religious minorities and the governor of Punjab province were assassinated for supporting changes to the country's blasphemy law.)

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