Asia

Pakistan court upholds Asia Bibi death sentence

  • 16 October 2014
  • From the section Asia
Asia Bibi pic
Image caption Ms Bibi consistently denied the allegations against her

A Pakistani court has upheld the death penalty for a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy in 2010.

Asia Bibi was found guilty of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

The Lahore High Court rejected her appeal against the sentence passed by a lower court. Her lawyers have vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Ms Bibi's sentence in 2010 sparked global condemnation.

Two prominent politicians - Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti - were both murdered the following year for calling for reforms to blasphemy laws in the wake of her trial.

Ms Bibi consistently denied the allegations against her, saying they stemmed from an argument with a group of women over a pot of water.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan. Critics argue that blasphemy laws are frequently misused to settle personal scores and that members of minority groups are often unfairly targeted.

Since the 1990s, scores of Christians have been convicted for desecrating the Koran or for blasphemy.

While most of them have been sentenced to death by the lower courts, many sentences have been overturned due to lack of evidence.

Muslims constitute a majority of those prosecuted, followed by minority Ahmadis.

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