Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy after proclaiming her faith in God, has been given the chance to appeal for her freedom after spending six years in prison.
The 50-year-old Bibi, a mother of five children, will face the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 22, to challenge for one last time her penalty of death by hanging, and to plead that she be freed.
The British Pakistani Christian Association (BCPA) has asked Christians around the world to pray that Pakistan's high court heed Bibi's plea for freedom.
BCPA officer Mehwish Bhatti also said the early date set by the court for Bibi's appeal should be viewed as a positive development.
"I am pleased at this early date; the legal process in Pakistan can be so delayed. Perhaps the international pressure felt by our Government has resulted in the expedition of her case," Bhatti said.
"I hope that this time the courts make the right decision and free sister Asia," she added.
Bhatti said Bibi has already suffered enough in prison, having been beaten and gang-raped while in jail in Pakistan over trumped-up blasphemy charges.
"Six years in a dingy, dark cell in complete isolation will no doubt have caused great trauma, especially when coupled with a nation's unfair hatred," Bhatti said.
Bibi was accused of blasphemy after she proclaimed, "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammed do for you?"
Six years after she uttered those words of faith, the Pakistani Christian is still the object of hatred in the predominantly Muslim country.
In fact, Muslim clerics have placed a bounty of nearly $5,000 on her head should the Pakistani Supreme Court decides on her freedom.
BCPA president Wilson Chowdhry, meanwhile, called for the repeal of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.
"The draconian blasphemy law of Pakistan has been condemned globally and is a tool for discrimination, vendettas and hatred," he said.