Thousands of Extremists in Pakistan Protest Demanding Asia Bibi’s Execution

10/16/2018 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Thousands of religious extremists in Pakistan took to the streets in Lahore on October 12 to demand Asia Bibi, a Christian woman currently on death row for committing blasphemy, be executed. The extremists went on to threaten the Supreme Court justices hearing Bibi’s appeal saying they would meet a “horrible” end if they released Bibi.

On October 8, Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the final appeal for Bibi. In that appeal, Bibi’s lawyer pointed out many of the contradictions in the witness statements that form the foundation of the charges against Bibi. Following the hearing the Supreme Court reserved its final judgment on the case for an unspecified time in the future.

The accusation against Bibi stems back to an argument between Bibi, a Christian, and her Muslim coworkers in 2009. Bibi’s coworkers became very angry with Bibi after she used the same water bowl as the Muslims. In Pakistan, Christians are often associated with being low caste and untouchable. In the argument that followed, Bibi’s coworkers claim that she used derogatory language against the Prophet Muhammad, violating Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abuse to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred. Little to no evidence is typically needed beyond an accusation to incite mob violence against the individual accused and the border community that individual represents if a member of a minority community.

As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate its final judgment, it is important to note the potential for broader violence against Pakistan’s vulnerable Christian community. Often the targets of extremist attack, Pakistani Christians fear that their community will bear the brunt of the fury from extremist if Bibi is released. Minority leaders have already been threatened and have reached out to security forces in Pakistan asking for greater protection.

For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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