Pakistani court acquits Christian woman on death row for blasphemy


She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day.

Two Muslim women refused to drink from a container used by a Christian, and a few days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy.

She's been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of violent execution hanging over her head.

Bibi has always denied blasphemy. However, officials had yet to say if there was any security arrangements for her protection or if she was planning to leave Pakistan.

Bibi appealed her conviction to the Lahore High Court, which upheld the decision in October 2014, sending the case to Pakistan's Supreme Court.

"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.

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The accusation against Bibi carries an automatic death penalty in Pakistan's legal system, and although the state has never executed anyone for the offence, vigilante mobs often take matters into their own hands.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the release of Bibi, who was eight years ago accused and sentenced for "insulting Islam".

"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".

Supporters of Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP), which was founded to support blasphemy laws, immediately condemned the decision to overturn Ms Bibi's conviction and blocked roads in major cities, pelting police with stones in the eastern city of Lahore.

Ms Bibi's lawyer Saiful Mulook told Reuters: "It is great news for Pakistan and rest of the world".

According to the Supplementary Cause List, the highest court in the land is set to announce its verdict Wednesday morning Pakistani time.

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Critics of Pakistan´s controversial blasphemy laws have long claimed that the legislation has been used to settle personal vendettas and target religious minorities.

The trial stems from an argument Asia Bibi, whose full name is Asia Noreen, had with a group of women in June 2009.

"This is an incredibly risky time, not only for Asia Bibi and the justices deciding her case, but the entire Christian community", the ACLJ reported.

"If she had not been acquitted, then we would have thought that there is no justice in this country", added Shafaqat Masih.

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

Rt Rev Susan Brown said: 'We urge the authorities in Pakistan to do all in their power to ensure the safety and security of Asia Bibi and her family, her lawyers and the judges.

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