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World News

Final appeal for Asia Bibi

by Aaron James

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws in 2009, after she and a Muslim neighbour had a confrontation.

She drank from a cup designated for Muslims, prompting an argument in which she said: "I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?"

A mob then beat her and her family, with some reports saying she was also gang-raped.

Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear Asia Bibi's appeal on Wednesday July 22nd at 9am. She denies committing blasphemy, and has been in a windowless solitary confinement cell for the last six years, where she is reported to be internally bleeding and vomiting blood.

A previous death sentence appeal to the Lahore High Court was rejected, and the appeal to Pakistan's Supreme Court is her final legal avenue for clemency except for a pardon from the President of Pakistan.

Wilson Chowdhry, from the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "The draconian blasphemy law of Pakistan has been condemned globally and is a tool for discrimination, vendettas and hatred.

"The impunity with which perpetrators of false charges can stir up community hatred, magnified by the intolerance and similar permission for mosques to preach hatred, have created a toxic situation for minorities.

"They are now fleeing Pakistan in their droves with thousands upon thousands being re-persecuted in South-East Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

"It is time for a global strategy that recognises the need to resolve conflict and hatred in the Islamic world to stem precipitating animosities in countries foolishly deemed safe."

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