Asia Bibi: Pakistan Acquits Christian Woman Facing Death Penalty For Blasphemy

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A Christian woman who was acquitted by the Supreme Court after spending eight years on death row for insulting Islam is still being held in an undisclosed location.

"Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant's religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was also not short of being blasphemous", Judge Asif Saeed Khan Khosa added. She has been acquitted. Pakistan's bishops have cautioned Christians to show restraint in celebrating the verdict to avoid coming under attack.

"They all three deserve to be killed", TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told a protest in Lahore. Hardline Islamists, many of them of the radical Tehreek-e-Labaik Party (TLP), are demanding her death, the death of her family, and the death of the justices who acquitted her.

Bibi's arrest and conviction followed an argument with muslim women in 2009. She is reported to have left Pakistan and to have been reunited with her husband, daughters and grandchild.

This could result further delay Ms Bibi's release.

She was working in the fields outside her village, as part of a large falsa-berry harvest.

Bibi was accused of making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Consider the recent trials of two women who committed the speech crime of insulting the Prophet, one in Pakistan and the other in Austria. "Will they let me out, really?" she told AFP by phone after the news broke.

According to Kasuri, protesters will be granted legal amnesty under the terms of the deal and Aasia Bibi - the 53-year-old Christian woman at the centre of this week's furore - will be placed on Pakistan's Exit Control List.

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"I just don't know what to say, I am very happy, I can't believe it".

To this, Bibi was called a "piece of filth" who would "pay dearly for what you've said". The police took her into custody, saving her from a fierce mob.

Since her arrest, Bibi has garnered worldwide support from numerous world leaders calling for her immediate release, including Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

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.

The blasphemy laws remain an extremely sensitive issue in ‎the predominantly Muslim nation and they have ‎drawn intense criticism even within the country. Since 1990, dozens of people accused of blasphemy have been murdered.

She was not in court to hear the ruling, but reacted to the verdict from prison with apparent disbelief.

Mere calls to reform the law have provoked violence, most notably the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's most populous province Punjab, by his own bodyguard in broad daylight in Islamabad in 2011.

And the Supreme Court's decision doesn't end the targeted use of Pakistan's blasphemy laws against religious minorities.

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