Pakistani Christian campaigner from Chigwell rejoices as Asia Bibi acquitted of blasphemy charges
PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 February 2019
A Chigwell campaigner is rejoicing after a Pakistani mum-of-five was acquitted of blashpemy charges following a protacted legal battle.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn the 47-year-old mum’s conviction and death sentence on Tuesday, January 29.
In 2010, Ms Bibi was convicted after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She spent eight years on death row.
Chigwell resident Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association which has campaigned for years to free Ms Bibi, released a statement on the eve of her acquittal.
“Today is a day of rejoicing, come what may in the aftermath of this decision,” he said.
“Asia Bibi has always been innocent and it is a blight on Pakistan that it took almost ten years to come to this decision to free her.
“Her freedom is a massive step in the advancement of equality and justice in Pakistan.
“I am sure years from now her bravery in the face of such malice and her steadfast and resolute faith in Christ despite the pressure to adopt Islam, will become a galvanising cry for change which will topple the deepset intolerance in Pakistan.
“Asia is an international figure now and can represent not only the Pak-Christian cause but the cause for all persecuted Christians and minorities.
“This woman’s sacrifice deserves a noble peace prize and I know soon many key figures across the globe will be challenging for this to happen.
“No humanitarian group can rest on their laurels our work is not complete.
“Over 40 other blasphemy victims reside in Pakistani jails of which close to 50percent are known to be Christian.
“Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws must be abrogated speedily to prevent this ever happening again!”
The Supreme Court quashed Asia Bibi’s sentence last October – but hardliners petitioned for the ruling to be overturned.
Religious groups also protested Tuesday’s decision – photos showing mobs burning Ms Bibi’s image.
Ms Bibi remains in protective custody a secret location in Pakistan.
Her daughter are reported to have fled to Canada.
Mr Chowdhry has launched a petition for the UK and other western state to grant Ms Bibi asylum which has gained more than 7,700 signatures.