A court in Pakistan has reached a decision on whether a Catholic woman will become the first person to hang to death under the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.
A special bench of the Supreme Court, sitting in Islamabad, reached a verdict on October 8 on the fate of Asia Bibi, but publication has been deferred until a later, unspecified date, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association. In an Oct. 8 news release sent by email to Catholic News Service, Mehwish Bhatti, an officer of the BPCA who was in the courthouse during the proceedings, said the three judges “have come to a decision, but it has been reserved.”
Christians in Pakistan are conscious of the threat of an outbreak of rioting by Muslim mobs if Bibi is acquitted by the court, the BPCA said in an Oct. 7 press release, even though they are praying ardently for her release. Bibi has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
Ashiq Masih, her husband, told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 5 interview that if Bibi is released she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan.
They said when they visited Bibi in Multan Prison on Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary to speculation that she was developing dementia. During the interview at St Columba’s Church, Ashiq said Bibi was praying constantly and that she deeply believed she would win her freedom.
“She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong,” Ashiq told CNS. “Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ. She will never convert to Islam.
“She also wanted to deliver a message to the international community that they must remember her in their prayers. These prayers will open the door of the prison, and she will be released very soon,” he said.