By Marcus Jones
It’s hoped the Supreme Court’s refusal to back down in its decision to acquit Asia Bibi will send out a strong message across Pakistan.
The Christian mother was told this week she was free to leave the country, several months after she was cleared of blasphemy.
Extremists, unhappy at her acquittal last year, had petitioned the court to overturn its verdict and send her back to prison for execution.
Pakistan’s Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said in court that Ms Bibi’s accusers were guilty of perjury and if the case had not been so sensitive, they should have been jailed for life.
“The image of Islam we are showing to the world gives me much grief and sorrow,” Mr Khosa said.
Welcoming the verdict in an interview with charity Aid to the Chruch in Need, Father Emmanuel ‘Mani’ Yousaf (pictured below), National Director of the Church-run National Commission for Justice and Peace, which provides legal for blasphemy victims called on legal professionals across Pakistan to take note.
“The decision by the Supreme Court means that the lower courts should have the courage now to think twice about handing down the death sentence,” he said. “God bless the judges. They had received threats and yet they knew that Asia Bibi was falsely accused and were strong enough to say so.”
Asia Bibi, who was in prison for almost a decade, has reportedly fled Pakistan.
“Every one of us is so happy for her,” Father Emmanuel said. “Especially when the attention of the world is focused on Pakistan, it is wonderful to see the country stand up for justice.”