CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Asia Bibi's Last Appeal Date Against Alleged Blasphemy Charges Set for October

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi's appeal to overturn the death penalty for alleged blasphemy charges will be heard by the country's highest court this October. 

The hearing is the last legal option for her to challenge the death sentence by hanging, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).

She was sentenced to death by a local court in 2010 under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. A year earlier, she was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women over drinking from the same bucket as them. In the ensuing brawl, the women accused her of insulting Prophet Muhammad. Asia denied the charges, but was nevertheless detained and arrested.

Her high court appeals were delayed several times, and finally in October, 2014, one of the two judges confirmed her death sentence. But, her petition for legal review was accepted by the Supreme Court in July 2015. Asia's lawyer Saif-ul Malook told persecution charity ICC that he hoped the court would acquit Asia.

"I will appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and argue her case while she will remain in prison," Malook said. "I hope the result will be an acquittal." 

If Asia's appeal is rejected by the Supreme Court, only a presidential pardon can stop the execution.

Human rights groups in Pakistan say that the country's blasphemy laws are used to persecute the minorities.

According to BBC News, her four daughters and husband are living in hiding because of death threats from fundamentalists. Also, many have pledged to kill her if she is released from prison.

She told her family when they visited her on Christmas Day last year: "Jesus made this happy day for me and has accepted my prayers. I'm excited and full of joy in meeting today my family and celebrate Christmas with you."

"Today [Dec. 24] is also the birth of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Peace be upon him, on this day. Honestly, I could never even think of disrespect. But, although I have been in prison for seven years, I do not hate those who did me wrong," Asia was quoted as saying by Christian Post.

"I pray that Muhammad will bestow wisdom on his followers so that peace can go on being built around the world. I pray that Jesus Christ will grant peace to the whole world."

Tags Asia Bibi, Pakistan blasphemy laws, International Christian Concern (ICC)

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