For nearly a decade, the case of Pakistani farm laborer and Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, has garnered worldwide attention.
Bibi was arrested in 2009 and subsequently sentenced to death by hanging in 2010.
But her crime? You won’t believe it:
Asia Bibi was arrested for drinking the same water as her Muslim coworkers.
You see, while harvesting berries on a hot day, Bibi was asked to bring water to her Muslim coworkers, but she made the grave mistake of taking a sip along the way.
Since Bibi is Christian, this action rendered the water “impure” for her Muslim coworkers to consume, and apparently, could only be rectified by her immediately converting to Islam.
But Bibi refused to reject her Savior, Jesus Christ, and in doing so, her coworkers were sent into a rage.
When they reported her alleged blasphemy against Muhammed to the local authorities, things got serious.
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have gotten worse and worse over the past 30 years, accelerating to a charge being punishable by death in 1986.
While 1,300 blasphemy cases have been prosecuted since then, Bibi became the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Placed on death row in 2009, Bibi appealed her death sentence and has since received national attention from both Christian advocacy and human rights’ groups throughout the world.
Multiple petitions, including pleas from both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, have all called for the charges to be dropped.
Meanwhile, the backlash from radical Muslims has been fierce, even leading to the assassination of individuals who have advocated for Bibi.
Bibi’s family has received countless death threats and was even forced into hiding before eventually fleeing Pakistan altogether.
In 2014, the Lahore High Court dismissed Bibi’s appeal and upheld her conviction and sentence.
Shortly thereafter, her husband appealed directly to the President of Pakistan for clemency.
In 2015, the Supreme Court halted Bibi’s death sentence during her husband’s appeal.
Then on October 31, 2018 — in a shocking reversal — a three-judge panel announced its decision to acquit Bibi on charges of blasphemy!
In a 56-page judgment, Judge Asif Saeed Khan Khosa ruled that because Bibi’s alleged blasphemy occurred after her Muslim coworkers had insulted her religion, they had been just as blasphemous as Bibi.
Additionally, concerns were addressed regarding a lack of evidence that supported the charges against Bibi and unreliable testimony from her Muslim coworkers.
The court ruled that Bibi’s sentence should be vacated and released immediately.
The international community, including Christians around the world, breathed a collective sigh of relief at the overturning of her death sentence.
However, the reaction within Pakistan has incited more Muslim outrage.
Pandemonium immediately swept the country as riots broke out in the streets. Schools had to close and families fled from the paths of rioters. Calls for the murder of the three judges in the Supreme Court became loud throughout the country.
Fueled by radical Pakistani political group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), protests and riots were organized calling for Bibi to be hanged immediately.
By November 1st, a national warning was issued for residents to stay off highways due to the unsafe conditions. Additionally, Christian schools have been closed indefinitely due to safety concerns.
On November 2, 2018, the Pakistani government and TLP came to an agreement that forbade Bibi to leave Pakistan in return for the riots and protests to cease.
Sadly, Bibi was kept in custody “for her own safety” for days after her acquittal, leading many to be concerned that by forbidding her to leave, the government was effectively reinstating her death sentence.
The latest news came on November 9th from Bibi’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook, who has also been forced to flee the country. He disclosed, “She has been freed. I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land.”
A tweet from the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said, “Asia Bibi has left the prison and has been transferred to a safe place,” which leads some to believe she is on her way to Europe.
Pakistan is home to approximately 3 million Christians. The Pakistani government has requested Christians stay away from public places for fear of retaliation for Bibi’s acquittal.
Please pray for Asia Bibi’s safe escape and for the safety of all Pakistani Christians living in a nation that has such hatred for our Lord Jesus Christ.