Over 540,000 people have signed a global petition to call on the government of Pakistan to release Asia Bibi who is on death row for blasphemy charges.
“Asia Bibi was falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’ -- speaking against the Prophet Muhammad. Now this wife and mother of five will hang for her Christian faith. She would be the first woman executed under Pakistan’s Shariah blasphemy law. This is the ultimate human rights violation,” states the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) petition on behalf of Bibi.
The Islamic radicals have expressed rage towards Bibi, and have stated that they will kill her if she is not given the death sentence.
However, several national and international human rights organizations are calling on Pakistan to release her and reform the blasphemy laws.
Bibi has been living in captivity for the last seven years, waiting for the verdict to be pronounced.
Human rights activists say that most of the blasphemy cases in Pakistan have no real ground and are motivated by personal vendettas. They also argue trials for blasphemy cases are not fair, and the judiciary hands out sentences under the pressure of radicalized mobs.
“Article 10-A of the Constitution of Pakistan requires that a person facing a criminal charge ‘shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process.’ Asia’s trial was anything but fair, and the process she has experienced and is experiencing even to this very day is anything but due process,” ACLJ said in a letter to Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani.
The Pakistan Supreme Court was to hear Asia Bibi’s appeal in the blasphemy case on October 13th, but the trial was delayed again after one of the judges on the bench recused himself.
The judge had earlier presided over the prosecution of late Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s murder, and said that an implicit connection between that trial and that of Asia Bibi makes him unsuitable to hear the case.
The matter is now in the hands of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who will constitute a new bench for the trial.