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ICC Note:

After the Lahore High Court confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan, many human rights groups and Christian organizations have been calling on Pakistan to expedite Asia’s hearing in the Supreme Court. Asia is accused of violating Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws after she had an argument with two Muslim coworkers. She has been on death row since she was originally sentenced in November 2010. Please remember to pray for Asia today. 

10/19/2014 Pakistan (Christian Post) – As reaction pours in from around the world to yesterday’s Lahore High Court ruling upholding the death sentence for Asia Bibi in her wrongful blasphemy suit, a Christian human rights watchdog group is calling on the Supreme Court of Pakistan to expedite a hearing in the case, and a London-based music band that is “disgusted” with the decision has launched a music video supporting the imprisoned mother of five children.

In an audible and visual show of its disgust at the high court decision, ooberfuse, an electronica band from Woolwich, London today released FREE, a music video crying out for an end to the persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities in Pakistan and around the world. They join a British Pakistani Christian Association protest this Saturday from 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. at 10 Downing Street, the London residence of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cherrie Anderson, frontwoman of the band, explained: “We have been calling out for Asia’s release ever since we translated Asia’s autobiography into English. Asia’s own words inspired our defiant anthem FREE. We will carry on our campaign until religious minorities around the world enjoy the freedoms people of all faiths and none enjoy here in the UK.”

The human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) also calls for her security and wellbeing to be guaranteed in the interim.

The Lahore High Court rejected Asiya Bibi’s appeal against her death sentence for blasphemy on October 16 in the presence of the complainant cleric Qari Saleem and representatives from Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD), the political wing of the violent militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The ever-growing influence of extremist groups in Pakistan is highlighted in CSW’s recent Pakistan briefing as a key concern; in addition to fabricating blasphemy accusations, they frequently threaten and even kill relatives of those accused as well as lawyers working on blasphemy cases.

CSW said Asia Bibi was arrested on June 19, 2009 in Ittanwalai village, Sheikhupura district, close to Lahore, and held in detention for over a year before being officially charged. On November 12, 2010, she was sentenced to death for blasphemy on account of defaming the Prophet Muhammad under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The initial charges were brought by a local cleric named Maulvi Qari Saleem, two days after two of Asiya Bibi’s colleagues alleged that she had insulted the Prophet after a petty dispute.

“Asia Bibi has endured grueling conditions in nearly four years of detention on death row, much of it spent in solitary confinement. Her health has suffered and she has had severe restrictions on visitors. This is in part due to security concerns, as blasphemy law victims are prone to violent abuse. There has been a lack of progress in her case, with five hearings cancelled this year alone, as well as the intimidation of judges and lawyers,” CSW said.

Ms Michelle Chaudhry, President of the Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) stated: “We are disappointed and terribly upset over the decision, however we look forward to the appeal in the Supreme Court, with optimism and with the hope that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will do justice in this case, as Asia Bibi has wrongly been convicted of blasphemy. We remain optimistic that the rule of law will prevail and justice will be done. For now that is our only hope.”

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