Pakistan Supreme Court sets death sentence appeal date for Christian mother in blasphemy case

Pakistan's Supreme Court has finally set an appeal date for Christian mother Asia Bibi who is facing a death sentence in a blasphemy case.

Asia Bibi was previously sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, an accusation which many human rights and religious liberty groups see as a form of persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan. The Supreme Court is set to hear the Christian mother's final appeal in the second week of October, the International Christian Concern (ICC) details.

File photo of a police official taking the thumbprint of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, on an affidavit stating her innocence after she was visited by the Governor of the former Punjab Province Salman Taseer (R). | Reuters/Asad Karim/Files

"The Chief Justice [of] Pakistan has ordered that Asia Bibi's appeal be fixed in the second week of October for final hearing," Advocate Saif-ul-Malook, Bibi's Supreme Court lawyer, told ICC in an interview. "I will appear before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and argue her case while she will remain in prison. I hope [the] result will be an acquittal."

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2010, but she appealed to the Lahore High Court on Oct. 16, 2014. However, her death sentence was upheld, so she petitioned for a review of her case and suspension of the sentence on July 22, 2015. The upcoming Supreme Court appeal would be Bibi's last chance to escape execution, aside from a presidential pardon if the sentence is upheld.

The blasphemy accusation stemmed from a 2009 dispute between Bibi and some Muslim women with whom she was working with in Sheikhupura. The women reportedly became angry when the "unclean" Christian woman drank from the same water bowl that they used.

Bibi had asked the women, "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammed do for you?" This prompted the Muslim women to report to a local cleric that the Christian woman had blasphemed against Islam.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Christians expressed both joy and fear over news of Bibi's Supreme Court appeal. British Pakistani Christians Association (BCPA) chairman Wilson Chowdhry questioned why no one else was arrested for the rape and violence that the Christian woman had suffered while in prison.

Chowdhry slammed the previous government for failing to free Asia Bibi. However, he also expressed confidence in the current government's ability to uphold justice, equality, and freedom for the minority groups in Pakistan.

Inside Christian Daily