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    Pakistani protesters burn a poster image of Christian woman Asia Bibi, who has spent eight-years on death row accused of blasphemy and acquitted by a Supreme Court, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018

    Pakistan Supreme Court to Review Blasphemy Acquittal of Christian Woman

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    While Pakistan’s Supreme Court usually upholds its decisions, it is feared that this time they may change position in order to avoid upsetting large parts of the Muslim-majority population, many of whom were outraged by Miss Bibi’s release.

    Pakistan's Supreme Court will begin the process on Tuesday, 29 January, of reviewing an acquittal it made of a Christian woman who was accused in 2010 of 'blasphemy' against Islam, according to Reuters news.

    Asia Bibi, who is a 47-year-old mother of four, spent eight years in solitary confinement waiting to be executed after she was convicted in 2010 by a high court of blasphemy. However the supreme court — Pakistan's most senior — canned her sentence in October 2018, swiftly releasing her from jail.

    ​Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, who fled Pakistan for Europe after receiving a wave of death threats for defending the Christian woman, has reportedly returned home to continue assisting his client. Malook has been quoted as telling 'The Hindu' newspaper that, "I want to make it clear that I intend to permanently stay in Pakistan, but there are still security concerns."

    ​After Bibi was released from prison, a tsunami of nationwide anger rolled across Pakistan, causing a three-day-long mass protest led by the radical Islamist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). The protests, which brought entire cities to a standstill, ended when the Islamabad government negotiated with the Islamist protestors, telling them it would not stand in the way of anyone filing a review petition against the court's decision to let Bibi off of the death sentence. 

    READ MORE: Scottish Politicians Press Theresa May to Grant Asia Bibi Asylum

    ​Yet, Mr Malook is also quoted by Reuters as remaining hopeful, saying that, "they have filed the petition on flimsy grounds," adding, "god willing, she will have the decision in her favour tomorrow. She will be a free person to go anywhere she wants."

    While Islamabad has kept Bibi's location a secret since she was released in October, it has tightly controlled her movements, not allowing her to leave the country before the appeal against her release is being considered. It is however believed that if the Supreme Court upholds its decision then she will leave the country for sanctuary overseas as religious mobs continue to try and track down her whereabouts. In November 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in talks with Pakistan about giving her asylum.

    Miss Bibi was condemned to death by hanging after allegedly insulting Islam in an argument with a group of neighbouring men who were offended by her taking a sip from their cup because she was not Muslim. In Pakistan, 'blasphemy' against Islam is illegal, and a conviction of a crime under this law usually comes with the death sentence.

    Tags:
    blasphemy, Tehreek-e-Labbaik party (TLP), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Asia Bibi, Lahore, Islamabad, Pakistan
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