Pakistan Releases Christian Woman Sentenced to Death for ‘Blasphemy’
Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for making ‘blasphemous’ statements against the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Her release came after intense international pressure.
Washington, D.C. (November 22, 2010)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that today the president of Pakistan has pardoned a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Asia Bibi was sentenced on November 8 after a court in Punjab province found her guilty of making blasphemous statements against the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, it is a crime punishable by death to blaspheme the Islamic prophet.
Her release came after intense international pressure by politicians and church leaders as well as coverage by several media outlets.
Asia has now been taken to an undisclosed location for her safety. In the past, Christians have been killed by vigilantes after being accused of blasphemy. On July 19, gunmen killed Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, while police were transporting them from the court in Faisalabad to jail. The gunmen also seriously wounded a policeman accompanying them.
Some Muslim lawyers and other fundamentalist Muslims are preparing to demonstrate against Asia’s release.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, Jonathan Racho, said, “We are delighted to learn about Asia’s release and we would like to commend Pakistan’s president for taking the right action. It’s high time for Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws that have caused so much persecution against Christians and other religious minorities.”