Pakistan Supreme Court Acquits Asia Bibi of Blasphemy Charges

Pakistan Supreme Court Acquits Asia Bibi of Blasphemy Charges

Pakistan Supreme Court Acquits Asia Bibi of Blasphemy Charges

The United Nations has welcomed Pakistan's Supreme Court decision to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, after accepting an appeal against her sentence.

Bibi's acquittal has posed a challenge to the government of Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power this summer.

One Islamic cleric closely associated with the TLP, Pir Afzal Qadri of the Aalmi Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat, issued a fatwa that any judge acquitting Asia Bibi should be punished by death.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Asia Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. All roads in major cities in the country have been blocked as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TLP) called for a shutter-down strike.

"I just don't know what to say, I am very happy, I can't believe it".

Prime minister Khan addressed the nation through a video message and his address was exclusively focused on the Asia Bibi verdict.

According to the priest, most Pakistanis will be happy with the verdict in favour of "this poor lady" who, despite being innocent had to spend about 10 years in prison in solitary confinement.

After eight years of battling it out in the courts, a Christian woman in Pakistan has been acquitted of charges of blasphemy.

The pope told Bibi's daughter: "I think often of your mother and I pray for her".

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She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl. Before the verdict, Bibi's lawyer told AP: "I have lost my health ".

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There was no official word on the plan to clear the mobs but security sources said that all options were being considered. She says the Pakistani justice system is supposed to defend the life of Pakistani citizens, no matter their faith.

Seven people were killed and more than 200 wounded as the city was brought to a halt. The two Muslim women who pressed charges against Bibi denied they quarrelled with her, saying her outbursts against Islam were unprovoked. We have no link with the case (of Bibi) but we want that justice should prevail. Islamists in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi and in the northwestern city of Peshawar were also gathering for the protests. And there are reports of mobs in the streets burning tires over the court's decision to release her. Afridi said they will get the routes blocked by protesters reopened "through wisdom", for which all institutions were in coordination with each other.

Rizvi's envoys had demanded that Bibi be barred from leaving the country but Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry rejected the demand, saying the government will not accept any dictates.

She was accused of making insulting remarks about Islam after her Muslim neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was Christian.

Insulting Islam's prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions they are nearly impossible to defend against. Though the family has not disclosed the country of her destination, France and Spain have offered asylum.

At a protest in the capital Islamabad, a banner carrying an image of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who murdered Taseer, was raised over a stage, as a few hundred demonstrators listened to devotional songs and sermons.

Following the decision, a hardline Islamist party called for the death of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the two other judges who overturned the death sentence.

Ms. Bibi remained at an undisclosed location on Thursday where she was being held for security reasons, awaiting her formal release, said her brother, James Masih.

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