The Christian mother charged with blasphemy has been on death row for seven years. Her final hearing was postponed to a date to be determined after the retirement of a judge. The case of Asia Bibi returns to the spotlight after some imams demand her execution by hanging.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - Asia Bibi, the Christian mother condemned to death by hanging for alleged blasphemy, could return to trial shortly, perhaps in the first week of June according to Saiful Malook, the woman's lawyer. He reports that "the request to reopen the hearing was submitted to the President of the Supreme Court of Pakistan last week. The case continues to be postponed due to the problems of this country. We are in the midst of a continuing war between Islam and Kufr (infidels). But our hopes for her release are many. "
The lawyer spoke of the reopening of the case before the Supreme Court judges in an interview with AsiaNews. His comments came as news anchors and political commentators discussed the abuse of laws punishing offenses against the prophet Muhammad and the climate of intolerance in society in television broadcasts this week.
Last October 2016, judges of the Supreme Court postponed the trial against Asia Bibi to a date to be determined. The court, consisting of three judges and led by Mian Saqib Nisar, decided to postpone the final hearing after one of the magistrates - Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman - retired from the case, claiming he was also a member of the court that decided on the trial of Salmaan Taseer,, the late governor of Punjab province.
The spotlight returned to Asia this week after fierce statements by some prominent imams demanding her execution as "deterrent" for the violence that led to Mashal Khan's lynching. The Mardan University student was killed, denuded, and tortured for allegedly glorifying the Ahmadi faith.
The Lutheran Bishop of Mardan, Rev. Jimmy Mathew, says " both religious minorities and the majority suffer the blasphemy laws. There is total fear and confusion. In addition, the police and the university authorities continue to blame each other for the death of the student. " The Reverend complains that "the courts and the security forces become active only when violence has already occurred", while "people like Asia Bibi continue to suffer despite the evidence being insufficient. The blasphemy charge is itself a death sentence. "
Indeed, in Pakistan, suspicion of offending the prophet can trigger the reaction of the most radical Muslims. For this reason liberals and bloggers kidnapped in January and released after a month, who now face a blasphemy trial, have fled the motherland or disappeared. The only one who had the courage to stand, Ahmad Waqas Goraya, spoke of unprecedented torture. He also fears that the violent campaign against him by Islamic extremists on radio and television channels that paint him as a blasphemer can follow him to Europe where he has fled.
Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old journalism student at the Abdul Wali Khan University was attacked after rumours spread on campus that he had posted favourable comments about the Ahmadis on Facebook. For one observer, “we have created a society where students become murderers." For another, “We all are responsible”, politicians, authorities, radical parties that remain silent and support extremism.
The final appeal was set to be heard today in Islamabad, after having been postponed from 2014. A judge refused to show up, perhaps out of fear. She is accused of blasphemy, but has always denied any wrongdoing. She has been in prison since 2009. Muslims call for a "quick hanging".