A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman whose 2010 conviction for blasphemy led to the assassination of two politicians who supported her, a defense lawyer said Friday.
Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old mother of five, had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling, in which she was found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, but the court rejected her appeal Thursday, her lawyer said.
“We have the right to appeal in 30 days, and we will continue this legal battle by approaching the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” Sardar Mushtaq said.
Bhati was killed months later by the Pakistani Taliban, who called him an “infidel Christian.”
Mushtaq said Bibi was arrested after Muslim women told a cleric in a village in the eastern Punjab province that she had made “derogatory remarks” about the prophet. He said the trouble began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim, setting off a heated verbal exchange.
“We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life,” he told The Associated Press.
International and local human rights groups have called for amending blasphemy laws introduced by the military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s.
In a statement Thursday, Amnesty International called for Bibi’s release.
“This is a grave injustice,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director. He said there were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial. “Her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed,” he said.
Under Pakistani blasphemy laws, insulting the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad can be punished with life imprisonment or death. Experts say the laws often are exploited for personal gain.
Pakistan imposed a moratorium on executions in 2008 and has never executed anyone convicted of blasphemy. Instead, such cases usually linger on appeal.
As Robert Spencer points out:
His guests, David Miliband and some other clown, rush to absolve Islam from any responsibility for this, going on to argue with him that this is a Pakistani problem. They do not, however, address Maher’s point, that this blasphemy death sentence was just affirmed by a high court in Pakistan.
The same type of persecution is ramping up in the U.S., from the government jailing makers of a video, to government investigation into church sermons and coordinating with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (Twitter Blocks Faith-Based Campaign for Houston Pastors) while mosques preach jihad and recruit jihadists.
Not to mention media coverups of Muslims beheading Christians right here in the U.S.