Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

A Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy sits next to Governor of the Punjab Province as he talks to media after visiting her inside the central jail in Sheikhupura

A Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy sits next to Governor of the Punjab Province as he talks to media after visiting her inside the central jail in Sheikhupura

Asia Bibi thumbs on her appeal papers against a death sentence.

Later, two women refused to drink from the container she had touched because she was not Muslim.

Bibi has always denied blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, who has four children, was the first woman to be sentenced to death under the laws.

Upon her release, Bibi is expected to leave the country, the AP says.

And Kelsey Zorzi, director of advocacy for global religious freedom for ADF International, said, "We welcome the decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court to overturn the conviction and death sentence of Asia Bibi".

The TLP was founded out of a movement supporting a bodyguard who assassinated Lahore provincial governor Salman Taseer for advocating for Bibi in 2011.

She has also been a target for hardline Islamists in Pakistan, who have vowed to retaliate if she's released. But in Pakistan, it has rallied radical Islamists and militant groups who have embraced Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, using it to cultivate support and attack those who try to break their power.

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She was thrust into the spotlight in deeply conservative Muslim Pakistan, where even unsubstantiated accusations of disrespecting Islam can provoke death at the hands of mobs. At least 1,472 people were charged under Pakistan's blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2016, according to statistics collected by the Center for Social Justice, a Lahore-based group.

Ashiq Mesih (R) and Eisham Ashiq, the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi, speak during an interview with AFP in London on October 12, 2018. Soon after, protests erupted across multiple cities on the call of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a religio-political party headed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

"Clearly she will need asylum in a western country where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace", Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, told CBN News. The judgment of high court as well as trial court is reversed. The argument escalated as insults were traded with the women later accusing Bibi of committing blasphemy during the exchange.

"She was innocent and she was being discriminated [against]", said the pastor.

"If she had not been acquitted, then we would have thought that there is no justice in this country", added Shafaqat Masih.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the the capital punishment for breaking them has drawn concern from worldwide rights organizations, "not least because they are sometimes misused to settle feuds, grab land, or persecute religious minorities by making false allegations", NPR's Phillip Reeves has reported. "We hope this time she will be completely exonerated and this wrongful conviction will finally be overturned as this is her last chance to be heard at court".

Party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi said: "The patron in chief of TLP, Muhammad Afzal Qadri, has issued the edict that says the chief justice and all those who ordered the release of Asia deserve death".

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