THE Supreme Court of Pakistan has agreed to hear an appeal by Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010 (News, 19 November 2010).
The Court also suspended on Wednesday the decision of the High Court in Lahore to uphold the death sentence (News, 17 October).
Mrs Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in 2009. She says that she was falsely accused by Muslim women who bore a grudge against her. Her death sentence, which was imposed by the High Court in Lahore in 2010, provoked an international outcry.
Nasir Saeed, the UK director of the Christian charity Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which has represented Mrs Bibi in court, said: "I believe that justice will be done by the Supreme Court. . .
"The misuse of the blasphemy law is widespread in Pakistan, and people are using this law to settle personal scores, and there are many innocent people who are suffering and languishing in prisons for years because of its continuous misuse, while several people have been killed by vigilantes."
David Turner, the director of Church in Chains, a charity based in Ireland, welcomed "the first legal decision in Asia’s favour since she was arrested six years ago. However, it is disappointing that the Supreme Court did not acquit Asia and order her release today. The lifting of the execution order is just the first step towards justice being done in this case. Our hope and prayer is that the Supreme Court will hear Asia’s full appeal very soon so that she can be freed and reunited with her family."
CLAAS reported on Monday that two Christian brothers, Qaisar and Amoon Ayub, had been arrested on blasphemy allegations, after one was accused of having insulting material on his website. CLAAS is providing free legal aid, and has visited them in Jhelum Jail, in Punjab province.