Christian mother of five is the first woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
After seven years in prison, Asia Bibi will have to wait even longer to know her fate.
Her appearance Thursday before Pakistan’s Supreme Court was put off when one of the three judges in the case recused himself. The Christian mother of five is facing a death sentence for blasphemy.
“I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman reportedly told the court. Taseer was a politician who was assassinated in 2011 after he spoke out on behalf of Bibi. His killer, who was praised by many who thought he did the right thing, was sentenced to death by the Pakistan court and executed in February.
Lawyer and columnist Asad Jamal said Rehman wasn’t legally required to remove himself, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM). Both cases have caused national uproar; about 150 radical clerics have called on the government to hang Bibi and others accused of blasphemy. Yesterday 100 policeman were on hand to keep order, WWM reported.
Bibi’s new hearing date has not been set, according to the BBC. It will be her last chance at saving her life.
Bibi is the only woman ever sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, which has never carried out such a sentence (though at least five people accused of blasphemy have died in custody).
Local Christians told Open Doors that they were hopeful about Bibi’s fate, since her case had obvious flaws. Leading human rights lawyer Asad Jamal told the Guardian that he agreed.
“There is absolutely no case against Asia, I really can’t emphasize that enough,” he said. “It should take no more than 30 minutes to throw the case out.”