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Pakistan Supporters Fear for Safety of Aasia Bibi after Taseer killing
Christian woman is on death row under blasphemy laws that Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer had condemned before his assassination

01/06/2011 Pakistan
(The Guardian)-Human rights workers say they fear for the immediate safety of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman at the heart of Pakistan’s blasphemy furore, following the assassination of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer this week.

“None of us feel safe, least of all her,” said Shahzad Kamran, a Christian charity worker who has visited Bibi in jail several times since last November when she was sentenced to hang for blasphemy.

Bibi, a mother of four who has been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad, has been in solitary confinement for the past month. But since Taseer was shot multiple times by his own guard in Islamabad on Tuesday, Kamran said he feared Bibi could be killed by a zealot.

“There are many chances. The prison guards could also kill her because they are Muslims and we cannot trust them,” he said.

Kamran said he expected that Bibi’s “heart was broken” at the death of Taseer, her most prominent defender, and that her plight had reverberated across Pakistan’s embattled Christian community.

“Taseer died for the Christians and now we are feeling broke and scared. If they can kill the governor of Punjab then who am I?”

At least 10 Pakistanis have been killed while awaiting trail on blasphemy charges since 1990, according to human rights workers, including one man in Lahore last summer.

In Rawalpindi, Mustafa Qadri, the rogue policeman who killed Taseer, made his second court appearance amid chaotic scenes. An armoured car drove him to a makeshift court in Islamabad where seminary students and lawyers showered him with rose petals.

Seeing the size of the crowd, police tried to move Qadri to a makeshift court in nearby Islamabad. But the plan was scuppered when Qadri supporters blocked a judge from leaving the building. The hearing took place seven hours late amid tumultuous scenes.

Qadri told interrogators he killed Taseer because the governor wanted to reform the controversial blasphemy laws used to imprison Aasia Bibi and hundreds of other minority Pakistanis. Taseer had called the legislation a “black law”.

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