Asia Bibi, a mother of five, sentenced to death in 2010 for "blasphemy", was acquitted today by the Supreme Court of Pakistan after 3,422 days in solitary confinement.
This is wonderful news, just weeks after Pastor Brunson was released from Turkish prisons.
Accused by Muslim women from her village (in Punjab) of having soiled the water of a well by the mere fact of having drunk from it, because she is a Christian, Asia Bibi was reproached with having answered his accusers: "I think that Jesus sees things differently from Muhammad" and that "Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humanity" before asking, "What did your prophet Muhammad do to save humanity?" She was then beaten, imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged.
This condemnation has aroused worldwide indignation. Several people in Pakistan were murdered for showing their support for Asia Bibi. This is why we must pay tribute to the courage of the Pakistani attorneys, and to the judges who, by adopting this decision today, take a significant personal risk. Moreover, Asia Bibi and her family are at risk for their very life, as Islamic radicals in Pakistan have been threatening to kill her upon her release. And there are reports that mobs are blocking traffic and burning tires, angered over her acquittal.
We are proud of the dedication of our partner in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA) , which has been working for years in defense of persecuted Christians in too many cases. Many people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are lynched and sometimes killed before a trial even takes place.
The ECLJ, along with our American colleagues at the ACLJ, have also advocated in Europe, in the United States and at the United Nations to demand this release and the abolition of the crime of blasphemy in Pakistan. We also worked through our office on the ground in Pakistan (where we have successfully defended numerous Christians in court). Until recently, we intervened in the Human Rights Council in this regard. We support more generally the freedom of expression on Islam in Muslim-majority countries, but also in Europe where it has recently been questioned.
The ECLJ and its partners around the world will continue to work to defend and release Christians imprisoned for their faith. This victory today encourages us and shows us that our international mobilization is bearing fruit.
We thank you for your support. We rely on your faithfulness in prayer for persecuted Christians around the world.
Translation by BMG