Pakistan’s Supreme Court upholds Asia Bibi’s acquittal


By ERASMUS

IN AN AGE where religious dissidents can face flogging or death in Saudi Arabia, re-education camps in China and dubious terrorism charges in Russia, good tidings about liberty of belief are hard to come by. But on January 29th a flash of welcome news came from Pakistan.

The country’s highest court reaffirmed an earlier decision to acquit a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, of blasphemy charges which had led to her spending eight years on death row. She was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad after a squabble with her Muslim neighbours and fellow fruit-pickers over a shared bucket of drinking water. For critics, the case epitomised the cruelty of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which make it easy for humdrum personal quarrels to be elevated into life-or-death court cases.

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