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Islamist radicals defy Imran, choke Pakistan over blasphemy acquittal

02 Novembre 2018

The protests began Wednesday shortly after a Supreme Court verdict acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.

A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy.

In a statement before Wednesday's ruling the party said: "If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be bad consequences".

Several countries have offered Bibi asylum.

The demonstrators were protesting against the court's decision to free Asia Bibi, a mother of four, who had been living on death row since 2010, as the first woman sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan's tough blasphemy laws.

Protests were reported breaking out in Karachi and Islamabad, as well as LaHore.

Private schools in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces also remained shut. Prime Minister Imran Khan's new government should use this opportunity to amend and ultimately repeal a blasphemy law that has, too often, been used against Pakistan's most marginalized and most vulnerable. We will not allow any vandalism [or] blockage of traffic. "And why should it be me that converts instead of you?"

"We urge the government of Pakistan to provide necessary security to Asia and give her a safe passage to a place of peace and security".

"The Muslim generals of the army, it is their responsibility that they should launch a rebellion against these generals", Afzal Qadri - a TLP leader - told supporters in Lahore. Trumpeting Qadri as a hero was a newly formed political party, called Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), that wants Pakistan to impose strict observance of Sharia law. Commandos were sent to protect Nisar and the other two judges of the high court who received death threats.

Punjabi governor Salman Taseer was assassinated for speaking out on Bibi's behalf and calling for the country's blasphemy laws to be overhauled.

He then upheld the top court's verdict, saying that the decision of the judges was according to the constitution and "Pakistan's constitution according to the teachings of Islam".

The charges against Bibi date back to a hot day in 2009 when she went to get water for her and her fellow farm workers.

Asia Bibi was convicted after being accused of insulting Mohammed during a row with her neighbours over drinking water. Bibi always denied the allegations. Many Muslims in Pakistan think their utensils and food become unholy if they are touched by Christians.

It said Muslims constituted a majority of those prosecuted, followed by members of the Ahmadi, Christian, and Hindu minorities.

It is a case which has drawn global attention to Pakistan's blasphemy laws and divided the nation. She suffered tremendous pain and agony despite never being proven guilty, and most Pakistanis believed she committed blasphemy without even knowing the facts.

"I am afraid I will have to leave Pakistan".

ACLJ said the protesters are "enraged at the very possibility of this Christian's life being spared".

The Church of Scotland has welcomed the ruling and urged authorities in Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of Asia.

Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code needs to be repealed - it was introduced by the British to keep the local the population divided in the name of religion.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who had received death threats, announced the landmark verdict that fully overturned her 2010 conviction to a packed courtroom amid increased security.

Islamist radicals defy Imran, choke Pakistan over blasphemy acquittal