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Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal upheld by Pakistan Supreme Court

The daughters of Asia Bibi (CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters)

Hardliners were trying to get the court to reverse its October decision to overturn Bibi's conviction

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the acquittal of Christian woman Asia Bibi on blasphemy charges.

The country’s top court upheld its decision to overturn Bibi’s conviction and death sentence in October. She was originally convicted in 2010 for allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Mohammed during an argument with her neighbours.

Her acquittal in October set off violent protests across Pakistan and hardliners submitted a petition for the Supreme Court to review its verdict.

However, chief justice Asif Saeed Khosar said on Tuesday: “Based on merit, this petition is dismissed.”

Asia Bibi is currently in hiding in Pakistan.

Human rights campaigner Lord Alton of Liverpool praised the court’s “very welcome and courageous” decision.

“I feel huge admiration for the Supreme Court justices who, by taking this decision, have been willing to put the rule of law above every other consideration,” Lord Alton said.

“We cannot forget that Asia Bibi’s case is one of many, and that, by some estimates, more than 70 people are currently on death-row for alleged blasphemy crimes.

“Pakistan’s remarkable founder,  Muhammed Ali Jinnah,  passionately believed  that minorities should have a place of dignity and respect in Pakistan. It’s a principle even woven into the country’s flag.  How countries treat their minorities is a crucial litmus test and Pakistan simply needs to look at its own foundation principles to see that they are failing the Jinnah-test, as minorities face discrimination and persecution.”