Case Study

Asia Bibi – First woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan is freed

May 2019

Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi

After a long battle for justice Asia Bibi left her native Pakistan to travel to Canada to be reunited with her family. Arrested on charges of blasphemy in 2009, she was found guilty in November 2010, becoming the first woman to be sentenced to death by hanging for the crime. She continually protested her innocence. Yet justice was continually delayed. Her appeal hearing was postponed five times, until Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence in October 2014. But four years later, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned the guilty verdit. Her daughter, Eisham Ashiq told Aid to the Church in Need: “This is the most wonderful moment. I am grateful to God for listening to our prayers.” But even then her nightmare was not over, as mass protests led the government to allow the verdict to be appealed. However, the Supreme Court finally upheld her acquittal in January 2019. Speaking about her final release, Father Emmanuel Yousaf, National Director of Pakistan’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, told Aid to the Church in Need: “For almost 10 years now, this is the day all of us have been waiting for when the family can at last be reunited.”

Sources: John Pontifex, “Asia Bibi flies to freedom”, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) News, 8th May 2019, https://acnuk.org/news/pakistan-asia-bibi-flies-to-freedom/ ; John Pontifex
and John Newton, “Asia Bibi’s family thanks God for her acquittal”, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) News, 31st October 2019, https://acnuk.org/news/asia-bibis-family-thanks-god-for-heracquittal/ (accessed 26th June 2019).

Image: Asia Bibi’s daughter Eisham Ashiq, during her 2018 visit to the UK.

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