To those who are unfamiliar with her case that has steadily panned out for the last eight years, farm labourer Aaysia Noreen, 47, from the Punjab province of Pakistan (or Asia Bibi as she is commonly known) was accused of blasphemy after a heated argument with a co-worker concerning the Muslim doctrine in 2010.
She has since been shackled to death row after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled her as flawed and hard-line protestors campaigned fiercely for her public execution. The climate of intense religious regulation in Pakistan’s society means that communities collectively still reserves the ultimate punishment for those that blaspheme.For Bibi, with such a torrent of support for her condemnation, there seemed to be little hope.
However, Bibi’s case has attracted the attention of the world human rights societies through the outcries of her husband and five children. Her family met with Pope Francis in February 2018 and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who both condemned the decision of the Pakistan Supreme Court to imprison Bibi.
Her husband, Ashiq Masih has recently pleaded to British Prime Minister Theresa May to support the transportation of his wife from Pakistan to England, further pushing the case to the surface of media attention. The freeing of Bibi has also been highly supported by Christian minority organisations such as International Christian Concern, Open Doors, and Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that are committed to representing Christians like Bibi facing oppression.
With the attrition of support from the outside world against Bibi’s arrest, it is little surprise that the Supreme Court has recently reviewed the case and discovered flaws in the prosecution against Asia Bibi. On the 8th of November she was moved from her jail cell in Pakistan and transferred to a ‘secure location to be with her family and await her removal from the country’, according to a spokesperson from the CAN organisation. Despite recent over-excitement from journalists leading their readers to envision a swift and covert exit from the eyes of the public through military channels, and the insistence of the Pakistani government that Bibi is still in the country pending their judgement, she has now successfully avoided the jaws of the death penalty placed on her eight years ago.
This case conveys to me again the simple truth that many voices can undo even the most ancient laws and hopeless cases. The resolve of her family to have her freed, as well as her own enduring strength over the past eight years on death row. The freedom of Aaysia Noreen will stand as a reminder that cases of an unjust nature can and should be undone by the power of people.
If you have an opinion about the recent release of Asia Bibi or her case, please feel free to get in touch with the Galleon to share your thoughts.