Protests in Pakistan delay release of woman acquitted of blasphemy

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"We will not [end the protests] unless the judges who overturned the death sentence are sacked and Bibi is hanged", Rizvi told supporters in the eastern city of Lahore. It outlines cases where vigilante mobs have murdered several people accused of blasphemy before they got their time in court.

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.

Besides, the government will take legal measures to place Aasia Bibi's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and protesters taken into custody by law enforcers from Oct 30 onwards will be released forthwith. NBC correspondent Waj Khan was in Islamabad yesterday and charactarised the mood as "bracing for impact". "I'm forced to address you", Khan said.

Cell-phone services have been suspended in many parts of the country, making communication hard.

"Karachi to Gilgit, Pakistan is burning and rulers [are] least bothered". Major arteries and motorways were cut off as well.

FILE - In this November 20, 2010, file photo, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, listens to officials at a prison in Sheikhupura near Lahore.


Bibi's acquittal has posed a challenge to the government of Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power this summer.

"Well, he should go to the Supreme Court and submit a petition against this court order to discourage those who commit blasphemy".

Given the hostility and threats in response to today's verdict, it is likely that Bibi and her family will need to seek asylum in another country. Allegedly, two Muslim women refused to touch the container after Bibi, saying that it was unclean because of her religion- Bibi is a member of Pakistan's Catholic minority.

"All my mother had done was take a drink of water because she was thirsty", said her daughter Eisham, now 18.

Blasphemy carries an automatic death sentence in Pakistan, but the government has never actually executed anyone for the offense. "I can't believe what I am hearing".

There was no official word on the whereabouts of Bibi, but reports in local media suggested she might have been flown out of Pakistan due to safety concerns.


"T$3 he prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt", read the verdict in the case of Asia Bibi.

In 2011, senior politician Salman Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard for voicing support for Bibi.

In 2012, around 14 people were killed and scores injured when violent protests broke out over an anti-Islam and blasphemous videos circulated on YouTube. A shrine to Qadri is maintained in Islamabad. "Justice should be based on rights and according to the laws".

The reason the Supreme Court heard Ms. Bibi's appeal and acknowledged in its judgment what had been widely known - that witnesses against her had either retracted their testimony or contradicted each other - can be found in Pakistan's severe financial woes.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, returned from Britain with their children in mid-October and was waiting for her release so they could leave Pakistan.


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