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'Don't test our patience': Pakistan army warns Islamic protesters

02 November, 2018, 19:27 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Pak Supreme Court To Rule On Christian Woman Facing Death Over Blasphemy

Islamists held rallies Friday across Pakistan against freedom for Asia Bibi and to denounce Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling that overturned her 2010 conviction of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Bibi's acquittal has posed a challenge to the government of Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power this summer partly by pursuing the Islamist agenda.

Asia Bibi, a Christian farm laborer, angered her Muslim co-workers when she took a drink of water from a cup she got for them almost a decade ago.

The woman shouted to other Muslim women working in the fields that Bibi, being a Christian, had made the water and vessels unclean for Muslims.

Bibi was the first woman in Pakistan's history to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, though others have been convicted and given lesser sentences.

Asia's family and her lawyer say she never insulted the prophet.

BBC News reporter Secunder Kermani, on the ground in Islamabad on Wednesday, wrote, "Asia Bibi's lawyer, closely flanked by a policeman, told me he was "happy" with the verdict, but also afraid for his and his client's safety".

Protesters burn a poster of Asia Bibi, in Pakistan.

The mother-of-three, 47, has always maintained her innocence - but has spent the majority of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010 by a trial court. "It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant's name Asia means "sinful" but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare's King Leare, 'more sinned against than sinning'".

She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy.

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Thousands of far-right religious demonstrators continue to block major roads across Pakistan in protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case.

April told Premier the blasphemy laws were still of great concern.

According to officials, Bibi might be flown out of Pakistan due to threat to her life.

"We will protect life and property of people.We will not let them (protestors) involve in vandalism or close down the roads", he said, referring to protestors blocking a highway linking the capital Islamabad with garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Bibi faced the death penalty for a 2009 incident in which Bibi, a Catholic, was accused of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. "Asia Bibi acquitted of charges", said Justice Nisar.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan warned what he called a handful of protesters across the country to "not take the state on" over the landmark Supreme Court verdict.

Large protests were also held in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, bringing parts of those cities to a virtual standstill.

Since then, Islamists have blocked roads and set fire to vehicles in order to put pressure on the government to stop her release from prison.

"They are threatening the government, the judiciary and the army but it seems the government and military are reluctant because they fear backlash", said analyst Fasi Zaka.

Punjabi governor Salman Taseer was assassinated for speaking out on Bibi's behalf and calling for the country's blasphemy laws to be overhauled.

Noting that many Muslims are also victims of the blasphemy laws, Fr. Yousaf said that the verdict is beneficial for all the citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or of other faiths.

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