Despite being declared innocent by the highest court in Pakistan in November, the blasphemy case against Asia Bibi is back in court.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court are deciding whether they will allow an appeal against Asia’s acquittal. If the court rules in favour of the appeal then Asia Bibi’s future and safety will be again thrown into doubt.
In October 2018 Asia Bibi was declared not guilty of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row. The court ordered her immediate release. Many expected her to flee the country and find refuge in the Netherlands, Canada or even in the UK. But violent protests organised by extremists broke out, shutting down the country until the Supreme Court promised to review Asia’s acquittal.
Asia was released from prison but barred from leaving Pakistan. She has been in hiding ever since.
Open Doors’ Advocacy Officer, Dr Matthew Rees, said: “The Supreme Court’s decision will send a powerful signal. Can Christians and other minorities’ rights be protected in Pakistan? The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are often used corruptly to allow persecution with impunity and to silence witnesses to crimes. Asia’s case and the violence surrounding it symbolises the extremes of opinion on these laws. Asia has suffered for too many years for a crime she did not commit. She has been declared innocent by the highest court in Pakistan and deserves to rebuild her life.”
The appeal against Asia’s acquittal was filed by Mr Gulam Mustafa Chaudhry, who is openly hostile toward Pakistan's Christian minorities. He is working hard to ensure that Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws remain sharp and is known in Pakistan for his pro bono work with anyone who wishes to bring a blasphemy case against a minority.
Asia’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, sought refuge in the Netherlands after the violence erupted in Pakistan. He has now flown back to Pakistan to defend Asia for what we are all praying will be the very last time. Unfortunately, by leaving the Netherlands, he will lose his asylum status.
Pakistan is number five on the Open Doors World Watch List. Christians in Pakistan face extreme violence – read the country profile to find out how to pray for and support Christians in Pakistan.
- That Asia will finally see justice, that her acquittal won’t be overturned and that she will be able to leave the country
- Thank God for the courage of Asia’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook – pray for God’s protection on him and wisdom as he fights for Asia in court
- That there won’t be violent protests in Pakistan and for protection of Christians, churches and their property.