Seventh Christmas In Jail For Christian Mother Asia Bibi Facing Execution For Blasphemy In Pakistan
Christian mother Asia Bibi was forced to spend her seventh Christmas in a row in a Pakistani jail as she continues to fight against a death sentence for blasphemy.
Bibi is in the middle of a difficult and lengthy appeal against the sentence for execution she received in 2010 after being found guilty of blasphemy.
The mother-of-three was picking berries with Muslims in June 2009 when they accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denied.
Pakistan's Supreme Court was supposed to rule on her appeal in October when the senior judge scheduled to preside over the hearing unexpectedly resigned.
It is not known how long Bibi will have to wait until her appeal is brought before the Supreme Court once again, but religious iberty group International Christian Concern told The Christian Post it was hoping her case could be heard in 2017.
Human rights groups have strongly criticized Pakistan's blasphemy laws, claiming that they are misused against religious minorities.
Just last week, Amnesty International released a report in which it said that Pakistan's blasphemy laws were "emboldening vigilantes" who target religious minorities with false accusations. Blasphemy trials were described in the report as "unfair", with the authorities starting legal proceedings without any real evidence.
The report highlighted Christians who have experienced threats to their lives because of blasphemy allegations, including Rimsha Masih, who was 14 when she was accused of burning pages of the Qur'an. She was forced with her family to seek asylum in Canada.
"There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan's blasphemy laws violate human rights and encourage people to take the law into their own hands. Once a person is accused, they become ensnared in a system that offers them few protections, presumes them guilty, and fails to safeguard them against people willing to use violence," said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's Director of Global Issues.