Pakistani Christian woman to appeal against death sentence for ‘blasphemy’

Saturday, November 13, 2010

LAHORE - Relatives of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy have said that they will appeal against her conviction.

Asia Bibi is believed to be the first woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, and although nobody has ever been executed under the law, about ten accused have been murdered before the completion of their trials, the BBC reported.

Her husband- Ashiq Masih- who is a field labourer, claimed that her conviction was based on “false accusations”.

“We have never ever insulted the Prophet Muhammad or Islamic scripture, and we will contest the charges in the higher courts,” he added.

Asia was accused of blasphemy after getting into an argument last year with a group of women when she was sent by the wife of a village chief to fetch water, said Masih, adding that the other women challenged his wife, saying that it was sacrilegious to drink water collected by a non-Muslim.

“My wife took offence, saying, ‘Are we not humans?’ This led to an altercation,” he said, adding, “The actual complaint was lodged five days later, when local clerics raised the issue with the police.”

Asia was arrested and charged with insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and the trial judge ruled out the possibility that she was falsely accused, saying that there were no mitigating circumstances.

Human rights activists want the blasphemy law repealed, as they say that it is often exploited by Islamist extremists or those harbouring personal grudges. (ANI)

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