The husband of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi—who has been sentenced to death for drinking from the same vessel used by Muslim women—said a bounty has been raised by a lynch mob backed by fundamentalist clerics out to kill her.
According to Ashiq Masih, 54, husband of Bibi, 50, the announcement of the bounty has been posted, promising to give nearly $5,000 to anyone who could kill Bibi, Fox News reported.
Bibi was accused by a group of Muslim women of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in 2009 after she tried to drink from their water bowl.
"A group of women suddenly told her not to drink from the bowl and an argument erupted. My wife argued back, she is bold, so she stood up for herself," said Masih.
"But the women argued and then started mentioning our religion – asking silly questions," he said.
Masih said his wife was abused by the women, who maintained that she was unfit to touch their water bowl because she was not a Muslim.
"We'd been targeted by villagers for a long time and they often taunted us. There had been many arguments over drainage problems and water pumps, always something to fight over," he added.
A court found Bibi guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging. She has been in prison for five years now while waiting for her sentence, wrote the Daily Mail.
Masih has been fighting for her freedom but expressed fears that even if his wife is acquitted by the court in a hearing this month, Bibi's life will still be in danger after clerics have put a bounty over her head.
"The Maulvis [clerics] want her dead," he said. "They have announced a prize of [98 to $4,915] for anyone who kills Asia. They have even declared that if the court acquits her they will ensure the death sentence stands."
Masih and his five children with Bibi have been in hiding. He said they have changed residence for at least 15 times now for fear of their own lives.
He has already hired a lawyer to help Bibi but has trouble keeping up with payments after he quit his job to go into hiding.
A number of people have been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, but most executions between 1990 and July 2012 were not carried out by the state but by mobs, said the Center for Research and Security Studies.
A petition initiated by the British Pakistani Christian Association calling for Bibi's release now has over 10,000 signatures. To add your signature, click here
A fundraising appeal is also being run by the BPCA, which hopes to raise funds towards Bibi's legal fees, as well as for her family. Details can be found here.