Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to hang for ‘blasphemous’ comments after Muslim women refused to share water with her loses her appeal against death sentence
- Asia Bibi, 46, has spent the last four years languishing in a prison cell
- She was condemned to hang following a conviction for blasphemy in 2010
- Two politicians who tried to help were assassinated – one by own bodyguard
- ‘I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as Muslim women’ she says
- ‘Other Christians accused of blasphemy are poisoned or killed in jail’
- Faces becoming country’s first female to be put to death for blasphemy
Shocking: Christian woman Asia Bibi, pictured, has seen her appeal against the death sentence denied
A Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy after making derogatory remarks about Islam to her Muslim neighbours has lost her appeal to have the decision overturned.
In 2010, Asia Bibi got into a dispute with neighbours and co-workers after they objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.
She was later reported for defiling the name of the prophet Mohammed during the argument and became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.
The shocking case hit global headlines after two prominent politicians who tried to help Ms Bibi were assassinated, one by his own bodyguard.
Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he appeared in court and the judge who convicted him of murder had to flee the country.
Ms Bibi’s lawyer, Naeem Shakir, said her accusers have contradicted themselves.
Two witnesses allegedly involved in the incident did not appear in court, he said.
A prayer leader did appear, saying he did not witness the original altercation, but that Ms Bibi had confessed in front of him.
Mr Shakir said: ‘I was expecting the opposite decision. We will file an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a few days.’
But Gulam Mustafa, the lawyer for the complainant, said the court’s decision was correct.
He said: ‘Asia’s lawyer tried to prove that the case was registered on a personal enmity but he failed to prove that.’
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.
The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence. There are no penalties for false accusations.
Those accused are sometimes lynched on the spot. If they are arrested, police and the courts often allow trials to drag on for years, afraid of being attacked if they release anyone accused of blasphemy.
Only one person has been executed since Pakistan imposed a de facto moratorium on executions in 2008.
This year has seen a record number of blasphemy cases as well as increasing violence against the accused.
Support: Ashiq Maseeh, husband of Asia Bibi, along with his daughters Sidra, second left, and Esham, left, speak to Pakistani Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, right. He was later murdered
Mrs Bibi – a farm worker from rural Punjab – last year released a memoir called ‘Blasphemy’, the New York Post reported.
She described how she has no idea how long she has left to live.
Talking about how she ended up in her position, she says: ‘I drank water from a well belonging to Muslim women, using ‘their’ cup, in the burning heat of the midday sun.
‘I, Asia Bibi, have been sentenced to death because I was thirsty. I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.’
In the book, Mrs Bibi describes how she ended up in this desperate situation on June 14, 2009 after going fruit-picking in the blazing sun.
Worried: The daughters of Mrs Bibi pose with an image of their mother who faces death by hanging
Dripping with sweat as midday approached, she decided to head towards a well for a drink of water.
The woman shouted out, telling all of the fruit pickers that the water in the well had been dirtied because Mrs Bibi drank from their cup.
After being told by the angry fruit-pickers to convert to Islam to redeem herself, Mrs Bibi decided to stand up to the crowd and defend Christianity.
But after she was pushed and shoved by the group Mrs Bibi ran home. Five days later, while fruit picking in another field, things became much worse.
She was suddenly attacked by an angry crowd who accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
She was eventually taken battered and bruised to the village imam and told she can redeem herself only by conversion to Islam or otherwise die.
Anger: Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Mrs Bibi at a rally in Lahore in 2010
She refused to convert but begged the crowd for mercy, insisting that she did not insult their religion.
They accused her of lying and repeatedly beat her until two policemen took her to a police station.
That day she was thrown into a prison cell and has remained locked up ever since.
Following her arrest in 2009, Mrs Bibi was held in the high-security District Jail Seikhupura, 22 miles north-west of Lahore. She has since been moved to a more remote prison.
She previously told how she feared being poisoned.
She said: ‘I am given raw material to cook for myself, since the administration fears I might be poisoned, as other Christians accused of blasphemy were poisoned or killed in the jail.’
Her book was dictated to her husband from jail who then relayed it to a French journalist.
Half of the proceeds from the book will help support Mrs Bibi and her family in their quest for justice.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2796178/pakistani-christian-woman-sentenced-death-blasphemy-making-derogatory-remarks-muslim-neighbours-loses-appeal.html#ixzz3GNVkbj5q
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