Protests in Pakistan delay release of Christian woman

Aasia Bibi

On Wednesday, the top court acquitted Aasia Bibi - a Christian woman accused of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death - and set aside an earlier judgment passed by a lower court.

"We are not going to step back", radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) - which had threatened the judges with dire consequences if Asia Bibi was acquitted - said in a statement.

"The patron in chief of TLP, Muhammad Afzal Qadri, has issued the edict that says the chief justice and all those who ordered the release of Asia deserve death", TLP party spokesman Ejaz Ashraf said, as cited by the news agency.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad in a dispute with her neighbours.

Bibi appeared to be in state of disbelief after hearing that Pakistan's Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had quashed her conviction almost eight years after she was first sentenced to death. Hundreds also blocked another key motorway, linking Islamabad with other major cities.

Prison officials said on Thursday that two inmates were arrested last month for planning to kill Ms Bibi by strangling her.

Asia Bibi's lawyer, closely flanked by a policeman, told the BBC that he was "happy" with the verdict, but also afraid for his and his client's safety. She had been in jail ever since, most of this time in solitary confinement.

A Christian woman who was acquitted by the Supreme Court after spending eight years on death row for insulting Islam is still being held in an undisclosed location.

Leicester leave it late against 10-man West Ham
Leicester City's social media is fired up and ready to go, more information on Saturday's game is available at lcfc.com . Maybe Leicester had other options which they missed but that goal was very unlucky in the last few minutes of the game.

He said the Army had seen statements of protest leaders against the military but it was showing tolerance as its focus was on militancy and to get the country out of the security problems. Five days after this argument between the women, a Muslim cleric lodged a complaint against Asia after a mob of Muslims beat her and forced her to confess.

The three-judge panel upheld the blasphemy law itself, saying it was consistent with verses from Islam's holy book, the Qur'an.

Those who condemned Aasia Bibi's conviction or criticized Pakistan's blasphemy law have also been killed. But the reaction to the Supreme Court decision has been fast, and fierce- hardliners are out protesting in the streets in most major cities.

She won her appeal against the conviction and subsequent death sentence on Wednesday. Allegedly, two Muslim women refused to touch the container after Bibi, saying that it was unclean because of her religion- Bibi is a member of Pakistan's Catholic minority. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged for the crime, but later was hailed by religious hard-liners as a martyr, with millions visiting a shrine set up for him near Islamabad.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan warned what he called a handful of protesters across the country to "not take the state on" over the landmark Supreme Court verdict. Similar rallies were also held in the northwestern city of Peshawar; there were no reports of violence.

The case was based on flimsy evidence, they said, and proper procedures had not been followed. Masih would not disclose the country of her destination but both France and Spain have offered asylum.

Human rights groups say Pakistan's blasphemy laws are exploited to settle personal scores.

Mere calls to reform the law have provoked violence, most notably the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's most populous province Punjab, by his own bodyguard in broad daylight in Islamabad in 2011.

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