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Husband of Pakistan blasphemy case woman calls for her protection

The husband of Pakistani Christian woman at the center of a divisive blasphemy case criticized government to deal with Islamists that left her in legal limbo and called on authorities to protect her. He said the government should never have yielded to pressure from protesters.

Asia Bibi, on death row since 2010 on blasphemy charges, was acquitted by the Supreme Court Wednesday and ordered set free, triggering protests by ultra-conservative Islamists who paralyzed Pakistan for three days.

The government reached a deal on Friday to end the protests by agreeing to a travel ban preventing Bibi from leaving the country, and saying it would not object to hardliner movements appealing the verdict.

Blasphemy is a hugely inflammatory charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and its Prophet Mohammed can spark attacks and killings at the hands of vigilante mobs.

Asia Bibi, an illiterate mother in her 50s whose case started in 2009 while she was working in the fields.

Citing religious reasons, two Muslim women at the time refused to share a glass of water with her and a fight erupted. Several days later, the pair reported the incident to a local imam, who said Bibi insulted the prophet, a charge she denies.

Bibi’s lawyer fled Pakistan on Saturday, fearing for his life.

Masih, husband of Asia demanded the government reinforce Bibi’s protection in prison, worrying that she may be attacked. He cited the case of two Christian men who were shot dead after a court acquitted them in another blasphemy case.

 

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