The lawyer for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, has submitted a request to the Supreme Court to reopen her case.
Speaking to Asia News, Saiful Malook, Bibi’s lawyer, said “the request to reopen the hearing was submitted to the president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan last week.”
The case could potentially be heard in June.
“The case continues to be postponed due to the problems of this country,” Malook added. “We are in the midst of a continuing war between Islam and Kufr (infidels). But our hopes for her release are many.”
Bibi’s final appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court was originally scheduled for October 13, 2016. At the last minute, due to growing pressure from Pakistani extremists, one of the judges refused to hear Bibi‘s case, claiming he had a conflict of interest.
Thus the case was indefinitely postponed. In the words of one Christian activist, “This was all planned and engineered. By this tactic, the judiciary and the government both saved their skin. However, it is painful to acknowledge that Asia’s situation in Pakistan is hopeless.”
Pakistan is ranked number one in violence against Christians according to Open Doors 2016 World Watch List.
Bibi was targeted by Muslim women in her village and pressured several times to convert to Islam. When she refused, the village provoked a confrontation.
When she brought water to a woman who had requested it from her, the woman made statements accompanied by insults that Muslims could not drink water that was provided by non-Muslims. Bibi replied by questioning the women as to whether all people are not human beings. That question caused an uproar in the village.
Not long after, a mob of village Muslims led by a local cleric viciously attacked Bibi and her family. She was saved by police who took her to the station and charged her with blasphemy on the basis of a complaint lodged by the cleric. Bibi was put on trial and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 under Pakistan’s amorphous blasphemy laws.
She has been languishing in prison ever since the original ruling. In October 2014, a Pakistani appeals court upheld the sentence.
While in prison, Bibi wrote her story in a book called Blasphemy where she recounted of her ordeal and her years in prison. All proceeds from the book are used to support Bibi’s family, who have been forced into hiding.
Bibi is the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. As far as we know, no one was executed by the courts, but in many instances where Christians were accused of blasphemy, they were killed by Muslim mobs either in prison or after they were released.
Bibi’s case made international headlines and drew criticism after two members of the government who voiced their support for her were assassinated. Pakistan’s minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was shot by the Taliban who labelled him an “infidel Christian” and the governor of eastern Punjab Salman Taseer was killed by Mumtaz Qadri, one of his bodyguards after visiting Bibi in prison.
Qadri, who lauded as a national hero, was put to death for the killing, provoking massive riots. A shrine is currently being built in Pakistan to memorialize him.