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The Pakistani Supreme Court announced on Wednesday the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Catholic Catholic woman sentenced to death and sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy in a case that split the South Asian country and sparked international outrage ,
Saqib Nisar read the verdict from the bank in Islamabad and said that the prosecutor had "unequivocally proven her case," the BBC reports.
Her original belief was based on a quarrel with her Muslim staff on a farm about whether Bibi as a Christian was pure enough to share her water. The incident led to allegations that she had blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad.
If her death sentence had been carried out, Bibi would have been the first person the state had executed under the blasphemy laws.
The ruling of the Supreme Court was formally ruled on October 8, but was not publicly disclosed until Wednesday.
Bibi, wife and mother of two children and three step-children, was on death row and was held in solitary confinement for over eight years. A previous hearing was adjourned in 2016 for legal technical details.
Bibi's case was extremely divisive in Pakistan. The hard line of religious rights has repeatedly demanded that she be hanged. Following the announcement of the ruling on Wednesday, the Pakistani Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) demanded the death of the Supreme Court Court and two other judges who overturned the conviction. The party also demanded the foreign trade of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Associated Press reports:
"Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a hardline cleric who has taken tens of thousands of people to the streets before the verdict. At previous rallies he called on his followers to gather in all major cities In order to express their love of the Prophet and to protest when Bibi is released, the authorities have stepped up security in churches across the country.
Shortly after the decision, hundreds of people of Islamists blocked an important road connecting the city of Rawalpindi Islamabad, Islamists in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi, and the northwestern city of Peshawar also joined in the protests, with similar rallies being held elsewhere, and the police urged demonstrators to disperse peacefully. "
Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images
After her release, Bibi is expected to leave the country, says the AP.
Your case has sparked international concern since its inception.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI demanded. Her release. Pope Francis met with her family in 2015. In the same year, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, Bibi declared honorary citizen of the French capital.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the death penalty for their penance have raised concerns among international rights organizations, "not least because they are abused to settle feuds, seize land or persecute religious minorities by making false allegations," said Philip Reeves from NPR reported.
The state has never executed anyone under the law, but the vigil has taken the punishment of the defendants in hand. A young Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy was murdered in 2014 by a mob.
The blasphemy laws were tightened in the 1980s under the military government of Zia-ul-Haq, which sought to strengthen its power through the "Islamization" of Pakistan's laws.
The laws are strongly supported by the religious rights of the country. A provincial governor who spoke out against Bibi and against the blasphemy laws was murdered in 2011 by his bodyguard, who was later martyred by hardliners.
Most Pakistani politicians and officials avoid blasphemy publicly discussing laws altogether because of the dangers, Reeves reports.