Last week, Pakistan’s High Court rejected the appeal of a Christian woman sentenced to death for the crime of blasphemy. Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, Asia Bibi will be put to death.
After half a dozen postponements and cancellations, Asia Bibi’s appeal was heard on Oct. 16 in the Lahore High Court. The defense took most of 35-minute hearing to argue their side, stating that plaintiffs waited six days before filing a complaint against the Christian woman. They argued that this showed conspiracy and intentional targeting. Her lawyers also pointed out that the man who issued the complaint did not even witness the alleged blasphemous statement. Twenty-five mullahs watched the proceedings from inside the courtroom. Outside, some 2,000 mullahs gathered in an effort to pressure the court into uphold the death sentence.
After the judges deliberated for nearly an hour, they denied her appeal. Asia Bibi’s lawyers now have 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, Pakistan’s highest court.
Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after a heated argument with two of her co-workers. Asia worked for a Muslim-landowner as did many of the women in her village. As one of three Christian families in her village, after being pressured to convert to Islam during the spat, she defended her faith. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told the women, “and yours is not true.”
For this crime, in November 2010, she was sentenced to death. It took nearly four years before the courts would listen to her appeal. Having her appeal heard before the Supreme Court will likely take just as long. VOM sources say she could expect to wait months or even years.