The Supreme Court of Pakistan has just released Asia Bibi. A Christian, she has been in jail since 2009 charged with blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammad. The packed court room in Islamabad was surrounded by 300 police when the verdict came down on October 31, 2018.
In Pakistan, the blasphemy law comes with a death penalty. Bibi was actually sentenced to death in 2010, but has been appealing the verdict. This was the last stage. If she had lost this case, the government would have executed her.
Officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the country has a population of 213 million of which 96.4% are Muslim and only 1.5% are Christian.
As soon as court released her, Bibi and her family were taken to an unknown location for fear of retaliation by extremists in the country. During the court case, two high-ranking government officials, including Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, were assassinated because they supported Bibe and even called for changes to the country’s blasphemy laws.
After the Supreme Court announcement, protests erupted across Pakistan with thousands calling for Bibe’s execution. Some have turned violent and several protestors are calling for the murder of the judges who released Bibi.
However, many moderates in the country are calling for changes to the law.
Many expect that Bibe and her family will have to leave Pakistan to be fully safe.
The problem started in 2009, when Bibi was picking fruit for a farmer and was asked to get water from a nearby well. When Bibi drank water from the well using a tin cup, a Muslim co-worker accused Bibi of contaminating the cup that was being used by Muslims.
This led to a confrontation where the accuser accused Bibe of blasphemy that ultimately resulted in her arrest.
However, there were several odd twists in this case.
First, the co-worker who accused Bibi of blasphemy had been in a long-standing conflict with Bibi’s family over land in the village. Pakistan’s blasphemy law is unquestionably vague and does not define what constitutes blasphemy and because of this Muslims often use the law during disputes with Christians over unrelated issues.
Secondly, during court cases, the accuser is not allowed to repeat the blasphemy because he or she would also be guilty of the accusation. As a result, courts have to take a person’s word for it that the person charged committed blasphemy.
Thirdly, Bibi was also told if she converted to Islam, the blasphemy case would be dropped. However, she refused to deny Christ.
Despite the threat of execution, in an interview with an Italian newspaper La Stampa, Bibi issued a statement saying:
“I forgive my persecutors, those who falsely accuse me …. I do not hate those who did me wrong.”
Asia is part of a new breed of Christians who will appear in the end times that will hold to their faith in Jesus despite threats of death.
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 NASV)
- Pakistan’s Supreme Court aquits Asia bibi of Blasphemy: “We are grateful to God”: CBN
- Pakistani woman is sentenced to hang for blasphemous comments about the prophet Mohammed during a row with Muslim women, who refused to share water: Daily Mail
- Asia Bibi will hang for blasphemy, Pakistani High Court Confirms: Assist News
- Pakistan, Asia Bibi has been acquitted: La Stampa
- Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy has her death sentence overturned, sparking huge protests from Muslims demanding she is hanged: Daily Mail
- Christian woman cleared of blasphemy in Pakistan prepares to flee the country as Islamists protest for a second day to demand she is hanged and judges who freed her are murdered: Dailymail