Congratulations to Pakistan’s Supreme Court. They have decided that a totally innocent woman should not be hanged after all, at least for the moment. Forgive me if I only raise half a cheer for Pakistan’s justice system and Pakistan itself.
Let us remember a few facts here. Asia Bibi has been in jail for the last six years. Her crime is supposed blasphemy, as she was accused by certain Muslim women, after an altercation, of saying less than complimentary things about Muhammad, whom Muslims believe to be the prophet of God.
In other words, Asia has been imprisoned for six years, and sentenced to death for five of them, for something that ought not to be a crime. As Asia Bibi is a Christian, she does not believe Muhammad to have any special status at all, so how can she blaspheme against him?
She cannot be in any way bound to keep a religious law of a religion to which she does not belong. In this her case presents a parallel with the Teddy bear case in Sudan and the case of Meriam Ibrahim, also in Sudan. And let us not forget Afghanistan.
The blasphemy laws in these countries (and these are not the only examples) claim jurisdiction over those who are not Muslim, which is simply outrageous. By all means let Muslims legislate for themselves, but they cannot and must not be allowed to legislate for the rest of us.
Asia Bibi’s release is now six years overdue. She should be released immediately and compensated for her false imprisonment. Moreover, the blasphemy laws should be abolished. Until this happens, Britain, and all other right on nations with their vaunted commitment to fairness, equality and human rights, should disrupt relations with Pakistan.
This case has gone on for six years. It is time for this farce to end, and for Asia Bibi’s long nightmare to be ended too.