Final Death Sentence Appeal Scheduled for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy, will have her final appeal heard tomorrow, October 8, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced.
Bibi, a 51-year-old mother of five, has been in prison since 2009.
A special three-member panel comprised of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel will hear the appeal.
The appeal has been languishing with the Supreme Court since 2015, when it issued a stay of execution.
Bibi was first convicted of blasphemy by a lower court in 2010 and sentenced to death. The Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence in 2014.
Dawn (PK) details the charges:
The allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was labouring in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with.
Asia Bibi, accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 despite her advocates maintaining her innocence and insisting the accusers held grudges against her.
She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
The women went to a local cleric and accused Bibi of blasphemy against the Prophet, a charge punishable by death under legislation that rights groups say is routinely abused to settle personal vendettas.
Bibi's supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute, and the Vatican has called for her release.
Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law has been repeatedly used to target religious minorities, including Christians and Ahmadi Muslims (whom Pakistan does not recognize as Muslims).
The hashtag #HangAsiya in support of Asia Bibi's death sentence is currently trending on Twitter in Pakistan.
Criticizing Pakistan's blasphemy laws has proved a dangerous business.
In January 2011, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was murdered by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, for calling for changes to blasphemy laws.