Pakistan overturns Christian woman's blasphemy death sentence

Pakistan overturns Christian woman's blasphemy death sentence

Speaking to Premier from Islamabad, Mehwish Bhatti from the British Pakistani Christian Association said: "There are so many blasphemy victims - Christian victims - who are still in prison and are on death sentence like Asia Bibi".

"The appeal is allowed".

Pakistani human rights activist Tahira Abdullah called for "state protection" of the acquitted along with her family and attorney. She had moved the Supreme Court against her conviction.

Chief Justice Main Saqib Nisar announced the verdict to a packed courtroom Wednesday, saying Bibi's "conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges".

Here is the full text of the 56-page long verdict given by the bench in the blasphemy case.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumor of blasphemy can ignite lynchings. However, officials had yet to say if there was any security arrangements for her protection or if she was planning to leave Pakistan.

The Vatican had also appealed and called for the release of Ms Bibi, and Pope Francis met with her husband, Ashiq Masih, and daughter earlier this year.

The protests are being led by the Islamic party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah.

Ms. Bibi's representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and that her accusers had contradicted themselves.

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Rights groups say the blasphemy law has been used to settle scores and to persecute religious minorities, and have pressed for stricter punishments for false accusations.

Hundreds of Islamists blocked a key road linking the city of Rawalpindi with the capital, Islamabad, and protests were held in Karachi, Peshawar and other cities.

She was sentenced to death in a case that provoked uproar at home and overseas.

The TLP was founded out of a movement supporting a bodyguard who assassinated Lahore provincial governor Salman Taseer for advocating for Bibi in 2011.

Bibi's case was closely followed internationally amid concern for Pakistan's religious minorities, who have frequently come under attack by extremists in recent years.

"We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice".

The group's emir for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said: "The goal of this protest is to raise awareness that if any such judgment is delivered in this sensitive case that grants concessions to the blasphemer Asia, then we will protest all over the country". The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, has been celebrated as a martyr by hard-liners since he was hanged for the killing, with millions visiting a shrine set up for him near Islamabad.

Her original conviction stemmed from an argument with her Muslim women coworkers on a farm over whether Bibi, as a Christian, was pure enough to share their water.

Taseer had also called for Bibi's release.

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