Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted a woman of blasphemy after she spent eight years on death row. Yesterday she was released. But her whereabouts remains a secret. The stealth is because radical Islamists want Aasia Bibi publicly executed—all because she is not a follower of Islam.
Bibi’s ordeal began on a blistering hot day in 2009 when the 54-year-old mother of five, a farmworker, went to fetch water. An argument took place after two fellow women farmworkers refused to drink from the same container as a “Christian.” Muslims use the term “Christian” for anyone who is not Muslim. Bibi is Catholic.
Nearly a week later, the women said Bibi had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. She was charged with blasphemy. The charge carries the death penalty. Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 and put in prison.
Since her release, radical Islamists have been demanding Bibi’s death—as well as the death of the three Supreme Court judges who acquitted her last week. Hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Party supporters took to the streets for three days to protest Bibi’s release.
Many people believe Bibi and her family will soon leave for Europe. Great Britain, Spain, and France have offered her asylum.
For Bibi’s husband, leaving Pakistan is painful—but a matter of life and death. “We have no other choice but to leave,” he says. “I love Pakistan but I can’t live here.”
The people in Bibi’s village are outraged at her release. “Before this we liked the Christian families,” says villager Aman Ali. “We always got along. But now there is only anger.” The village’s remaining three Christian families have fled.
Pray for safety, salvation, and peace in the Middle East.
(Pakistani protesters burn a poster image of Aasia Bibi, in Hyderabad, Pakistan. AP Photo)