In what may be a final opportunity to save her life, a Christian woman in Pakistan appealed her death sentence for blasphemy to the nation’s Supreme Court on Monday.
Members of a radical Muslim group in Pakistan are warning of “terrible consequences” for the nation if Asia Bibi is given any sort of leniency.
Reuters reported Pakistan’s Supreme Court held a hearing on the case but “reserved its judgment.”
Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan political party, the TLP, “which makes punishing blasphemy its main campaign rallying cry,” according to Reuters, said, “If there is any attempt to hand her over to a foreign country, there will be terrible consequences.”
In 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his bodyguard for speaking up for Bibi.
No one ever has been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy, but dozens have been killed by mobs bent on their own justice.
Reuters reported the TLP has no parliamentarians in the National Assembly but “wields outsized influence due to street power of its die-yard supporters.”
The Family Research Council said Bibi’s case grew out “of an argument with several Muslim women who grew angry at her for drinking water from the same bowl as them, which they believed made the water ceremonially unclean.”
FRC said Monday there “appears to be a glimmer of hope that she could be acquitted by the high court and set free, with sources currently reporting the justices are set to reverse her conviction.”
As WND reported, a three-judge panel was assigned to hear her case.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was to be joined by justices Asif Saeed Khosa and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which defended her, said Bibi was “convicted in 2010 under Pakistan’s medieval blasphemy laws and sentenced to death for blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad after she offered water to a Muslim co-worker who believed Asia had made the water ceremonially unclean by drinking from the same cup.”
“Since then the Christian mother of five has languished on death row, while her husband and children wait anxiously, praying for a miracle.
“This is a clear cut human rights violation,” ACLJ said.
If the court rejects her arguments, only the nation’s president could intervene.
Bibi’s supporters insist it was a personal dispute, and the Vatican has called for her release.
“We’ve presented Asia Bibi’s plight to the U.N. to urge intervention,” ACLJ said. “We’ve sent legal letters directly to Pakistan, demanding her immediate release. We have aggressively advocated across the globe for her freedom. And we will have our legal team from Pakistan in the courtroom praying that true justice is served and her life is saved.”
ACLJ said Bibi “has committed no crime – she is facing this outrageous barbaric sentence because of her Christian faith.”
“If her appeal fails, five children will be left motherless. We cannot sit by and let that happen.”
The blasphemy charge arose in 2009 when Bibi was working in a field.
“She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl. The women went to a local cleric and accused Bibi of blasphemy against the prophet, a charge punishable by death under legislation that rights groups say is routinely abused to settle personal vendettas.”
WND reported last winter that Pope Francis gave her a rosary, and prison authorities allowed her to keep it.