Pakistan’s Supreme Court is expected to announce Wednesday its decision on a Christian woman’s appeal of her conviction and death sentence for blasphemy for giving her Islamic co-workers water.
Asia Bibi’s defenders with the American Center for Law and Justice said the court will determine whether or the mother of five “is set free or hanged for her Christian faith.”
Her case gained additional prominence when then-Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer pleaded for a retrial and was subsequently murdered by one of his security guards in 2011.
Bibi was arrested in 2009 and convicted in 2010 under section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code that punishes blasphemy against Muhammad with the death penalty.
“Asia was accused of speaking disparagingly about the prophet but her real crime was that she offered water to Muslim co-workers who believed Asia had made the water ceremonially unclean by drinking from the same cup,” ACLJ said.
“They asked her to convert to Islam, which Asia refused. After five days of this argument between the women, a Muslim cleric lodged a complaint against Asia after a mob of Muslims beat her and forced her to confess.”
Hundreds of Christians and members of other faiths have been jailed for blasphemy in Pakistan, but ACLJ said the government never has executed anyone for the religious offense. Nevertheless, many defendants have been killed by Muslim mobs carrying out vigilante justice.
WND reported hundreds of protests were being held throughout Pakistan by Muslims threatening destruction and murder if the Supreme Court doesn’t order Bibi’s execution.
Her case was heard on appeal Oct. 8 before the Pakistani Supreme Court.
Tufail Ahmad, a senior fellow for the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative, wrote about the threats and violence from Muslims who were trying to influence their judicial system.
The protests took place in an estimated 200 towns and cities, often immediately after Friday prayers at mosques.
“Religious clerics … who addressed the rallies in these towns vowed to continue their protests until the Supreme Court delivers its judgment and to oppose any attempt to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws,” Ahmad wrote. “Should the court verdict be lenient against Asia Bibi, they warned of countrywide chakka jaam – laying siege to traffic, a form of protests in South Asia where protesters stop, attack and burn vehicles.”
Pakistani media reported the protest leaders also took pledges from activists and the public to offer any sacrifice of life and wealth.
Ahmad cited a report that said “the lovers of Prophet Muhammad were seen to be extremely agitated and were demanding that the blasphemer Asia be hanged.”
The protests are being led by the Islamic party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah.
The group’s emir for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said: “The purpose of this protest is to raise awareness that if any such judgment is delivered in this sensitive case that grants concessions to the blasphemer Asia, then we will protest all over the country. We will jam [lay siege to traffic] the country and the entire responsibility of it will be on the government.”
ACLJ said the protesters are “enraged at the very possibility of this Christian’s life being spared.”
“They’re demanding her death and threatening consequences – even against the judges – if she’s released,” the group said.
“This is an incredibly dangerous time, not only for Asia Bibi and the justices deciding her case, but the entire Christian community,” ACLJ said. “Pakistan’s Christian community fears they will be the first target of retribution if Bibi’s life is spared. They are asking for prayer and protection.”
ACLJ said the “barbaric mob rule” cannot be tolerated.
“It is well past time for the Pakistani government to take action and start protecting its Christian citizens.”