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Pakistan: appeals court considers case of Asia Bibi

Catholic World News - March 17, 2014

The Lahore High Court is now hearing the appeal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy.

Bibi was arrested on blasphemy charges in 2009 after she was accused by Muslim women of infecting local water by drinking it and then of blaspheming Muhammad. Bibi was sentenced to death the following year.

“In these days the international community is following with deep concern the difficult situation of Christians in Pakistan who are often victims of violence or discrimination,” Pope Benedict XVI said at the time. “Today I express my spiritual closeness to Ms. Asia Bibi and her relatives in particular, while I ask that full freedom be restored to her as soon as possible. I also pray for all those in similar situations, so that their human dignity and fundamental rights may be fully respected.”

Supporters of Asia Bibi have said that they hope the appeals court will not be swayed by political pressures from Muslim zealots. Two prominent Pakistani politicians who expressed sympathy for the imprisoned woman-- Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab state, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the national government's minister for minorities-- have been killed by extremists.

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