Asia Bibi: acquittal of blasphemy charge could be close, says family
THE FAMILY OF A CHRISTIAN woman fighting a death sentence in Pakistan believe the country’s Supreme Court may be on the verge of announcing her acquittal. On Oct. 8, 2018, the Court referred judgement in the final hearing in the case of Asia Bibi, whose conviction for blasphemy is on appeal.
Speaking on behalf of Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih and daughter, Eisham Ashiq, Father Emmanuel Yousaf said the Supreme Court’s decision could be announced very soon.
Father Yousaf, who is with Eisham and Ashiq Masih in the United Kingdom for events organized by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: “Although the judges didn’t give a judgment, this has happened in many cases of this kind in the past—and they still ended positively.
“We will have to wait a few days but we are confident that things will go well.” Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, in 2010 became the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.
During yesterday’s final hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, there was a protest outside, calling for the death sentence to be upheld but proceedings ended with a verdict still pending. Father Yousaf said: “There is no decision–we are hanging in the air–but God willing it will soon be over and [Asia Bibi] will be back home with the family.”
Throughout proceedings, Asia Bibi has insisted that she did not insult the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, which carries the death sentence under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s penal code.
Renewing calls for prayers for Asia Bibi’s release, Father Yousaf said: “We have prayed 10 years now for our sister, Asia, and I am confident that our prayers will be heard, and the judgement will go in favour of Asia, her family and the entire Pakistani Christian community.”
He added: “[The judgment] may come tomorrow. It may come after two or three days but I am sure it will be favorable.”
“Everyone who believes that the Blasphemy Law has been misused time and time again should pray for Asia Bibi’s release, regardless of their faith.”
—John Pontifex & John Newton