The Asia Bibi Case: Justice Postponed (Again)

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian who was arrested for “blasphemy” and eventually sentenced to death. It’s hard to believe, but it’s now been seven years since she was first arrested. We’ve been following her case since she was first jailed back in 2009. She’s been languishing on death row ever since, with the final disposition of her case repeatedly postponed.

It’s a sensitive problem for the Pakistani government — hanging Ms. Bibi would be enough to cause international outrage, even with the anti-Christian President Hussein in the White House. But releasing her would cause a firestorm among the “Islamists” who form an increasingly powerful mob in Pakistan. So the judicial system keeps putting off the execution.

She was offered the chance to convert to Islam, but refused. One shudders to think of what she has endured for seven years, as a female in a Pakistani prison. That’s a woman whose faith is strong.

Below are excerpts from an article on the latest postponement of Asia Bibi’s case, as published by Christian Today:

Why Was Asia Bibi’s Death Penalty Appeal Postponed, And What Happens Next?

Asia Bibi, the Christian mother sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, today had her final appeal postponed after years of languishing on death row.

The Supreme Court judge, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, withdrew from the case because he had also overseen the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri, the man charged with — and eventually hanged for — the murder of Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer in 2011, who had publicly defended Bibi.

“I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salman Taseer, and this case is related to that,” Rehman told the court in Islamabad.

He did not specify a new date for the hearing, and Bibi was taken back to jail.

So what happens next?

Bibi was first jailed in 2009 and sentenced to death in November the following year for allegedly blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with fellow farm workers. After her colleagues refused to drink from a cup used by Bibi because she was a Christian and therefore deemed ‘unclean’, she reportedly said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?”

She was later pulled before a judge and convicted of blasphemy — a charge she has consistently denied. She was last year moved to solitary confinement in her prison in Multan, eastern Pakistan, over fears she may be attacked by vigilantes, and has been allowed to cook her own food for fear she will be poisoned.

Andrew Boyd of persecution charity Release International said today in the wake of the appeal’s adjournment that it was unlikely Bibi’s case would move forward quickly.

“She’s been there [on death row] for six years,” he told Christian Today, and her case is the most-high profile blasphemy case in Pakistan — arguably the most notorious the country has ever seen. More than 1,300 people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan since 1987, a disproportionate number of them Christians, but Bibi’s case has captured world-wide attention, with international calls for her release and an end to Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws.

In Pakistan, however, Muslim hardliners are desperate for her to be hanged.

A group of 150 top Muslim clerics from the radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek issued a statement demanding the government hang Bibi and all other prisoners of blasphemy laws, World Watch Monitor said. The Muslim leaders reportedly issued a “verbal decree” that anyone who rescued or assisted in the rescue of people accused of blasphemy should also be killed.

Today, the cleric of the Red Mosque in Lahore said he would issue a fatwa against the Prime Minister of the country if Asia Bibi was set free.

The exact reason for the judge waiting until today to declare a conflict of interest that was previously known, is unclear. “What we do know,” Boyd said, “is that there is an extreme climate of intimidation [in Pakistan]”. More than 100 riot police were stationed around the court this morning to try to prevent violence, for which there is precedent in Pakistan. In addition to the assassination of Taseer, minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed in 2011 for defending Bibi.

More than 60 people associated with blasphemy cases have been murdered in recent years, Boyd said, “so there’s a climate of vigilantism, where many believe it is their religious duty to kill a blasphemer. If the court won’t do it, they will do it.”


There was “overwhelming evidence” presented to the Lahore High Court, which held Bibi’s earlier appeal, to overturn her conviction, said Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

“Judges are being frightened, and it’s preventing them from conducting this case in an appropriate manner, and bringing justice,” he told Christian Today.


Bibi’s earlier appeal in Lahore High Court was postponed five times, and there was a gap of around a month and a half between each postponed date, Chowdhry said. He urged the Supreme Court to set another date for her final appeal immediately, and a BPCA petition can be signed here.


And yet, despite the growing persecution in Pakistan, and the death threats received by Bibi’s family, their faith remains strong. Release International contacts have spoken to Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, who said his family is holding onto their faith, as is Bibi in prison, despite repeated attempts to convert her to Islam.

“They are courageous people who need our prayers,” Boyd said. “What we are seeing [with Bibi] is a woman truly faithful unto death.”

Read the rest at Christian Today.

Hat tip: Peter.

7 thoughts on “The Asia Bibi Case: Justice Postponed (Again)

  1. Pakistan is in a bind here and, while I have no sympathy, they are going to need some help.

    If any court acquits Aasia, the judge will be murdered and anyone who helps him/her will be torn to pieces by the islamic mob, so I can understand why Iqbal Hameed withdrew. It might not save him though. The powers of darkness have long memories and there is a long list of revenge murders in Pakistani blasphemy cases.

    If Aasia walks free from court, she will not be allowed to walk far. To be accused of blasphemy is to be guilty of blasphemy and the vigilantes will have their way, aided and abetted by the police.

    If Aasia is executed, she will be the first in pakistan to suffer judicial execution for blasphemy. There will be outrage around the civilised world, which is likely to cut off the foreign aid on which the corrupt state of pakistan depends. Again, if Aasia is killed extrajudicially, a common occurrence in pakistan, it could also cause reputable countries to cut off foreign aid.

    I can see only one way around this. Aasia Bibi must be secretly freed from prison, with the connivance of the authorities, given a new identity and spirited out of pakistan along with her family. Later, the Government can release the story that she died in custody, which becomes more and more likely the longer she is held. She is beaten and abused on a regular basis and I have read that she has been raped in custody on numerous occasions by her captors.

    Even by islamic standards, pakistan is a barbaric, backward state, which is why I never use a capital letter for islam or pakistan.

    • I like your no capitals policy, makes sense. Almost fells like sprinkling holy water.

  2. This is the case that makes me grateful that there are thousands of miles, and many borders, between Pakistan and where I am… and the one that makes me shudder to think how many of those masses who protested demanding Asia Bibi be killed, or threw flowers on the man guilty of killing the minister who stood up for her, or marched in memory when he was hanged, might now be in the heart of Europe posing as “refugees”…

    This case is the very reason to be concerned about Pakistan, Islam and immigration – and if the mass public attitudes expressed throughout the case become widespread also in Europe, then Europe is also finished…

  3. The British Pakistani Christian Association is up to speed on this case, and reports many other atrocities perpetrated against non-Muslims in Pakistan.

  4. This truly is an example of someone who needs asylum anywhere in the West she and her family would choose to live. I’m sure that many people would happily donate a little to help her on her way too. I know I certainly would. It’s beyond horrifying that you have a Country that is so utterly backward and barbaric, and yet the West bend over backwards to accommodate Islam, even though it is at odds with our own beliefs, culture and customs.

  5. One cannot help wondering why such champions of human rights abroad as Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton or Frau Merkel do not seem to take much interest in such horrible violation of Asia Bibi’s human rights. Neither do they appear to care much about the fate of Christians in Syria, Iraq or other Muslim countries.

    It looks like they consider Christians subhuman and thus not entitled to any human rights.

    Neither do we notice a big outcry of Western feminists. Right now they appear to be more preoccupied with the problem of sexist Halloween costumes for dogs than with the plight of Christian women in countries like Pakistan.

    The level of hypocrisy and cynicism among the ruling class and mainstream media in the West is higher than ever before and their hatred of Christianity is really mind-boggling.

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