Monday, April 21, 2014

Pakistan: Asia Bibi appeals hearing delayed again, she's been jailed since 2009

Appeal proceedings have been delayed again in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. This is the 3rd delays, now coming 1 month after the delay in March.

Lahore High Court Judges Sardar Tariq Masood and Abdul Sami Khan adjourned the case shortly after the hearing begun and arguments presented. Court sources said that a new date for the appeal is expected quickly in a case that began with the woman's arrested back in 2009.

For several months, extremist groups have also been making threats against the judges in order to pressure them to confirm the death penalty imposed by the lower court. However, the woman's lawyers said they remain confident and hopeful that the High Court will soon overturn her conviction and let her go.

In recent days, Pakistani Christians have promoted days of fasting and prayer on behalf of Asia Bibi and Sawan Masih, both of whom are innocent but sentenced to death under the infamous "black law".

The blasphemy laws say that "whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

In 2009, Bibi was working for a Muslim landowner on a farm. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and Bibi responded by telling the Muslim women that Jesus is alive.

"Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins...Our Christ is alive," she said.

She was then punished, charged with blasphemy and sentenced to hanging.

Source: The Global Dispatch, April 20, 2014