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ICC Note:

NGOs are calling on Pakistan to finally release Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks about the prophet Muhammad. In 2009, Bibi was accused of blasphemy by Muslim co-workers who were angry that a Christian would use the same water bowl as Muslims. Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are often abused and false accusations against members of Pakistan’s religious minority communities is common. Bibi’s case is a great example of why blasphemy laws around the world should be abolished. 

09/30/2016 Pakistan (ICN) – As Pakistan’s Supreme Court prepares to hear the final appeal to save the life of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, Release International is pressing for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to be repealed. Asia Bibi has been described as Pakistan’s highest profile prisoner. She has been imprisoned and on death row since 2009, accused of blasphemy. Pakistan’s Supreme Court is to hear her final appeal in October.

The farm laborer became the first woman in the country to be sentenced to death for blasphemy after a row with other laborers. Her Muslim co-workers refused to drink water she had brought for them because as a Christian they considered her to be unclean. On 14 June 2009 Asia was accused of uttering blasphemies against the prophet Mohammed – a charge she has always denied. In November she was sentenced to death. Should the Supreme Court uphold that sentence Asia Bibi would become the first woman in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy. Release is urging that Asia be acquitted, set free and protected.

Asia’s is the most prominent blasphemy case in Pakistan. But many others have been targeted by these laws, and once the cry of blasphemy has been raised, lives are at risk. Families have been murdered and Christians driven from their homes, and even when the courts have dismissed the charges, Christians have been shot by vigilantes.

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