Pakistan’s Islamist party says judges who acquitted Christian woman ‘deserve death’

Minnie Murray
November 2, 2018

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother facing execution for blasphemy, in a landmark case which has incited deadly violence and reached as far as the Vatican.

In a statement before Wednesday's ruling the party said: "If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be awful consequences".

"We will protect people's properties and lives, we will not allow any sabotage, we will not allow any traffic to be stopped", he added.

Insulting Muhammad is a risky business these days.

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group burn tires while block a main road during a protest after a court decision in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 31, 2018.

"They all three deserve to be killed", TLP co-founder Muhammad Fatal Badri told a protest in Lahore.

But the acquittal was met with near silence on the country's airwaves as broadcasters appeared to be steer clear of covering the controversial topic.

The Supreme Court decision enraged hardline Islamists, in particular, members of a group called the Tehreek-e-Labaik, who have taken to the streets to call for the death of the judges who made the decision and the ouster of the government.

The three-judge panel upheld the blasphemy law itself, saying it was consistent with verses from Islam's holy book, the Qur'an.

But after her acquittal, Ms Bibi's release has been delayed by thousands of Islamist protesters who brought the nation to a standstill by burning rickshaws, cars and lorries in a mass demonstration against her release.

Moreover, while it is critical that the judges and lawyers associated with this and similar cases be provided adequate security, this is a short-term solution to a longer, harder battle.


Ms. Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, has gone into hiding as the extremists had threatened his life as well.

Bibi appeared to be in state of disbelief after hearing that Pakistan's Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had quashed her conviction almost eight years after she was first sentenced to death. "I can't believe what I am hearing. Will they let me out, really?"

Bibi's family had expected her release by Thursday night.

Asia's husband Ashiq Masih said on Wednesday: 'I am very happy.

Bibi's case has garnered worldwide concern and condemnation.

Since her arrest, Bibi has garnered global support from numerous world leaders calling for her immediate release, including Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

TLP, founded in 2015, blockaded the capital Islamabad for several weeks previous year calling for stricter enforcement of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws. Our Pakistanis. The common people, the poor.

Bibi has been in prison since 2009, when a local cleric filed a complaint against her after a dispute between her and several Muslim women over her drinking from the same water cup.

"Her conviction is set aside", Chief Justice Saqib Nisar read today at the Supreme Court in Islamabad.

In recent years, it has also been used to smear dissenters and politicians. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan's Blasphemy Law. Later, the guard, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged for the assassination - a move that infuriated supporters of firebrand Muslim cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who launched a violent drive to block any possible changes in the law. The critical point about the Bibi case is that she was convicted on hearsay, and this is all it takes for lives to be destroyed.

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