Pakistan is bracing for its full supreme court to issue its final verdict in the case of the blasphemy charges brought against the woman known Aasia Bibi after a three judge panel ruled that the charges against her had not been proven and that she should be released. The right-wing Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party has been leading the protests. Meanwhile, Bibi’s lawyer has had to flee the country out of fear of being killed.
The TLP had demanded Bibi’s public execution, while the party’s founder, Mohammad Afzal Qadri, called for the death of the three Supreme Court judges who ruled to acquit her.
Qadri had also called for the overthrow of the Pakistan government over the controversy.
The protests ended only after the government agreed to a Supreme Court review of Bibi’s acquittal.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan went on the national television to say that the Supreme Court’s decision will be final and upheld.
The chances of the apex court’s acquittal being overturned are slim, according to Bibi’s lawyer, who fled Pakistan following the verdict.
Blasphemy is a massively inflammatory issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and Prophet Mohammed can lead to lynchings and murders.
The allegations have led to at least 74 killings in Pakistan since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.
Meanwhile, hard line groups continue to hold sporadic, albeit peaceful, rallies across the country and calling for Bibi’s execution.
The TLP has also vowed to return to the streets if Bibi leaves the country.
What is particularly revolting is not just the existence of such absurd blasphemy laws but that these extremists will not even let her leave the country. The Pakistani government says that she is being held in a secure location and Canada, France, and Spain have offered her and her family asylum
Which prompts the question: Why has the US not also offered asylum to her? The Republicans and evangelicals go on and on about how Christians are persecuted in other countries but when confronted with a concrete instance of religious persecution, they suddenly lose their voices, suggesting that for them this is mainly a political weapon to be used against countries perceived as enemies and not a religious or human rights issue.