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.
Pray for Asia Bibi: Pakistan’s top court to decide on her fate next week, as Muslim extremists demand her death https://t.co/TGQodzXSqC— Peter van Dalen (@petervdalen) 25 January 2019
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."
Asia Bibi lawyer Mr. Saiful Malook returns to Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/Jpq6HG8oyd— Kashif Nawab (@KASHNAWAB) 28 January 2019
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.
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."
Rose petals thrown in adulation of Khadim Hussain Rizvi — extremist leader of TLP who led riots demanding #AsiaBibi be put to death. His party calls for the murder of all Supreme Court judges. Get Asia Out. Now.— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) 25 January 2019
Credit plse @voice_minority pic.twitter.com/fEvxsswFps
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.
First Rahaf and now we need to bring Asia Bibi from Pakistan so she can live her life without fear. These are the women who genuinely need refuge and asylum. Lets help her. Hearts go out to the ones still facing oppression under repressive regimes— Raheel Raza (@Raheelraza) 12 January 2019
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.