An appeal hearing for a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Muslim beliefs has been postponed.
Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by the Pakistani courts in 2010 after she was accused of breaking blasphemy laws. Authorities said she verbally abused Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and two Muslim co-workers. Bibi has denied those accusations.
A new date for the appeal hearing has not been set. According to Pakistani law, two judges are required to be present in death penalty cases. One of the judges was absent for Monday’s proceedings.
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 (peace be upon him) 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 and charged with blasphemy.
Shahid Khan, Vice-Chairperson of GMA and author of “Invisible Citizens of Pakistan: Minorities in Focus” said that successive Pakistani governments "have failed to protect and safeguard the fights of minorities.”
"Instead they have feasted upon the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the smaller minority groups by introducing laws which further pushed them deep into a sea of despair, injustice and inequality," he said.
A petition for Bibi’s release is available at the Call for Mercy website.
Publication Date: March 17, 2014.