An innocent Christian woman is facing the death penalty in Pakistan after the government caved to the wishes of a radical Islamist group which demand capital punishment for violations of so-called blasphemy laws in the largely Muslim nation.
Aasiya Noreen, also known as Asia Bibi, is facing execution by hanging following the terrorist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) violent protests. The extremists have intimidated the government into showing no tolerance for citizens accused of blasphemy, according to a Morning Star News report.
Noreen was arrested in 2010 following an argument with a Muslim woman over a water bowl. She was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law and her sentence was upheld by a lower court.
Her lead attorney, Saiful Malook, told the high court during the trial that the intimidation that TLYR is putting on the government could affect his client’s chances of a fair trial should it go to Pakistan’s Supreme Court this month.
“It is Asia’s fundamental right to appeal her death sentence,” he said. “... but the naked threats made to judges from the podium at the protest sit-in at Faizabad, in full view of the state, and its subsequent surrender to their demands, does not bode well for Asia and all other people accused of blasphemy as well as their defenders.”
Civil rights activist Shakeel Naz warns that Islamic extremists will become more aggressive in persecuting Christians and other religious minorities if the government continues to cave to their wishes.
Naz told Morning Star News, “I am still finding it hard to digest. How could the government cave in to such ridiculous demands, knowing very well that it will roll back all the progress that has been made thus far in trying to make Pakistan a religiously moderate country?”
Noreen is the mother of five children, all whom have grown up with their mom behind bars. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, told the local press, “In the prison where she lives alone, it is very dangerous to lose hope.”