“I call on the Pakistani authorities to ensure that Asia Bibi is given a fair trial and to avoid any form of discrimination or religious prejudice,” President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani said today during the EP Plenary session.
Who is Asia Bibi?
Asia Bibi, a 51-year old fruit picker from Sheikhupura, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010 after an argument with a Muslim woman over a glass of water. Her supporters and rights activists maintain her innocence and insist she was falsely accused due to a personal dispute with the accuser.
The last time her case was taken up by the Supreme Court, was on October 13, by a three-judge bench. However, one of the judges, Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman retired from the case because he said he was also a part of the bench in the case of the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was assassinated by his bodyguard in 2011 for his support of Bibi. Judge Pervez Ali Shah fled to Saudi Arabia along with his family in 2011 after getting death threats for convicting Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri who confessed to murdering Taseer. Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and federal minister for minorities, was also assassinated that year for supporting Bibi’s released and recommending reform of the blasphemy law.
Source: Radio Vaticana
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has postponed its ruling on a final appeal by a Christian woman on death row since 2010 on charges of blasphemy, on 9th October. The judicial panel listened to Asia Bibi‘s defence lawyer challenge statements by those who accused her of insulting Islam’s prophet, an allegation that can incite riots in conservative Pakistan. The charge dates back to 2009 when Bibi went to get water for her and her fellow farmworkers. Two Muslim women refused to take a drink from a container used by a Christian. A few days later, she was accused her of blasphemy. She was convicted and sentenced to death.