Asia Bibi’s escape to Canada shines light on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws
Asia Bibi held the unfortunate distinction of being the first Pakistani woman sentenced to death for insulting Islam under that country’s blasphemy laws.
She spent eight years on death row before her conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in October 2018.
Last week, as Bibi began to settle into her new life in Canada, after arriving on Wednesday, her lawyer turned his focus to his next court battle against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Speaking from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, Saiful Malook said he knows that even acting as a lawyer for someone accused of blasphemy in Pakistan could be a death sentence for himself.
“When you start this type of case, you better start developing a close relationship to God because you can go to God at any given moment with 100 to 50 bullets,” he said.
‘A lot of injustice’
Malook’s new case involves a dispute over a text message a man received that allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
Like Bibi, Malook’s new client, Shagufta Kausar, is Christian. The text allegedly came from a SIM card issued to Kausar. Despite the fact that she doesn’t read or write, Kausar and her husband were sentenced to death for the message in 2014.
‘Pressure from the religious right’
The confrontation that started the ordeal occurred in 2009, while Bibi was employed as a farm worker.
For some Muslims in Pakistan, drinking or eating from the same dish or cup as a Christian is taboo. During a meal at the farm, Bibi touched the cup that her Muslim co-workers used for water. A heated argument erupted, Malook says, and two of Bibi’s co-workers accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
She was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and spent the next eight years on death row.
Ultimately, the case made it to the country’s Supreme Court, which last October overturned Bibi’s conviction, citing inconsistencies in the testimony against her.
Pakistani human rights lawyer Sarah Suhail says the blasphemy laws are often used against minorities and other vulnerable people to settle scores and disputes in the predominantly Muslim country. According to Amnesty International, between 2011 and 2015, at least 1,200 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan.
“The phrasing of the law, and the way in which evidence about it is collected, is really highly questionable and it leads to a lot, a lot of injustice,” Suhail said. – CBC News
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The article says it all. Sentenced to death, spending eight years on death row for being accused of sending a text? Really? This is OK? Am I allowed to criticize this? Is being critical of this insane blasphemy law considered “Islamophobia”? This is 2019! We are not living in the dark ages.
As long as this kind crap goes on in the name of Islam, then that religion is going to have a very large PR problem with the rest of the world. Especially in the west.