Acquitted of Blasphemy, Christian Woman’s Release Delayed in Pakistan

The release of a Christian woman in Pakistan who was acquitted by the Supreme Court of blasphemy earlier this week has been delayed.

Asia Bibi’s acquittal Wednesday sparked protests across the country. More nationwide protests are set to be staged after Friday prayers.

The military has warned that its patience with the demonstrators has been taken to its “threshold.”

“We are tolerating remarks against us, but action can be taken, according to the law and constitution,” military spokesman Asif Ghafoor said. “Don’t force us into taking an action.”

Bibi, a day laborer, was arrested after a dispute with women with whom she was picking berries.

According to her statement in court, Bibi had a heated argument with the women after they refused to drink water she had fetched for them because she was a Christian.

Several days later, a man, Qari Muhammad Salaam, lodged a complaint with the police, claiming Bibi had used derogatory language for the prophet of Islam in front of the other women. In 2010, a trial court convicted and sentenced her to death. She has been in jail as her case went through various phases of appeal.

“The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings,” Bibi’s lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where people have been killed by individuals or lynched by mobs over a mere accusation.

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