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Christian Asia Bibi freed in Pakistan after Supreme Court reverses 'blasphemy' conviction

More than 8 years after being falsely accused of blasphemy by Muslim co-workers

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was once on death row for allegedly violating Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws, is now free to leave the Middle East after Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld a decision saving her.

What's the background?

In 2010, Bibi was convicted and sentenced to death for violating Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws. For eight years, Bibi's family and team of lawyers fought her case through the Pakistani court system, finally receiving the break they long hoped for last October.

In a ruling that shook the Muslim-majority country to its core, Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned Bibi's conviction last October, finding that she was falsely accused by her Muslim co-workers who were upset that she was drinking water from the same source as they were.

In a 56-page ruling, Pakistan's high court famously said: "She appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare's King Lear, 'more sinned against than sinning.'"

What happened now?

In another sweeping ruling, Pakistan's Supreme Court said Tuesday it would not review its previous decision, rejecting an appeal petition that sought to have Bibi retried.

Just as they had in October, the justices said minimal evidence exists to suggest Bibi is guilty of the accused crime, highlighting witness statements and their contradictions. The justices also scolded the petitioner, who they said was unable to find legal error with the October ruling.

"We are not hearing the case again, the lawyer was unable to point out a single error in the judgment," Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said, according to CNN. "We have to look at the value of the statements by witnesses, how can we hang someone on a false witness statement."

The accusations of wrongdoing against Bibi are so egregiously built, Khosa said, that the accusers should be imprisoned for perjury, Fox News reported.

"The image of Islam we are showing to the world gives me much grief and sorrow," he said.

How did Bibi respond?

According to a friend, who spoke with Fox News, Bibi celebrated the ruling.

"I am really gratefully to everybody, now after nine years it is confirmed that I am free and I will be going to hug my daughters," the friend quoted Bibi as saying.

Bibi is currently in hiding, but is expected to head to Canada where her two daughters temporarily live. Canadian officials have yet to officially grant Bibi political asylum, but the country will likely accept her with open arms.

One last thing…
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