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Asia Bibi free at last: hope for others suffering under blasphemy laws

Summary

  • Pakistan’s blasphemy laws remain threat for religious freedom
  • 230 international parliamentarians appealed to Pakistan in Bibi’s support

VIENNA (8 May 2019) – Today, Asia Bibi arrived in Canada, according to her lawyer. Late last year, her death sentence for blasphemy was overturned by the Pakistani Supreme Court in a landmark ruling, sparking violent protests. Despite her acquittal and significant international criticism, Bibi was kept in custody and not allowed to leave the country.

“We are delighted that Asia Bibi has, at long last, been released. Sadly, Asia Bibi’s case is not an isolated incident but testifies to the plight that many Christians and other religious minorities experience in Pakistan today. While the right to religious freedom is protected by the Pakistani constitution, many face severe persecution and denial of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, a legal organization protecting human dignity and promoting fundamental freedom worldwide.

“Blasphemy laws directly violate international law. All people have the right to freely choose, and live out, their faith. We, therefore, urge all governments to uphold this right by ceasing enforcement and initiating repeal of their blasphemy laws,” said Coleman.

After spending eight years on death row, Asia Bibi’s conviction was overturned in a decision by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in October 2018. She had been accused of blasphemy for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam. In response to the Supreme Court decision, there were violent demonstrations calling for her execution. Pakistan has come under significant international scrutiny. Those concerns are expressed in an open letter signed by more than 230 parliamentarians from different countries and across the political spectrum who have raised their voices in support of, and in solidarity with, Asia Bibi. Find the letter here.

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