After a decade in prison, Asia Bibi is free

After a decade in prison, Asia Bibi is free

After a decade in prison, Asia Bibi is free

She was sentenced to death by a trial court in November 2010, with the Lahore High Court upholding the conviction four years later.

"The appeal is allowed". Thanks to Jesus Christ that she is acquitted.

ISLAMABAD: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has put his weight behind the Supreme Court of Pakistan after its landmark judgment in Asia Bibi case.

The Supreme Court in Islamabad ordered the release of Asia Bibi from an undisclosed jail on Wednesday.

Here is the full text of the 56-page long verdict given by the bench in the blasphemy case.

The media has been prevented from discussing the case since the verdict was reserved on 8 October.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the the capital punishment for breaking them has drawn concern from global rights organizations, "not least because they are sometimes misused to settle feuds, grab land, or persecute religious minorities by making false allegations", NPR's Phillip Reeves has reported.

Paramilitary troops deployed in Islamabad to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court, where security for the judges was being beefed up.

The sources said security personnel had been asked to guard the Red Zone as it houses sensitive installations, including the Supreme Court.

It is a case which has drawn worldwide attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and divided the nation.

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was acquitted on Wednesday after being sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2010.

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

Freedom for Bibi in Pakistan, where university students have been lynched and Christians burnt in ovens over blasphemy claims, means a life under threat by hardliners, who regularly hold demonstrations calling for her execution.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Asia Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim.

"I don't see any derogatory remarks vis-a-vis the holy Quran as per the FIR", added Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, referring to the initial complaint filed in the case.

The mere rumor of blasphemy can ignite mob violence and lynchings in Pakistan, and combatting alleged blasphemy has become a central rallying cry for hard-line Islamists.

The TLP was founded out of a movement supporting a bodyguard who assassinated Lahore provincial governor Salman Taseer for advocating for Bibi in 2011.

In recent years, it has also been weaponised to smear dissenters and politicians. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder. Analysts have warned the tactic could deepen sectarian fractures and potentially spill into violence.

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