Since June 19, 2009, Aasiya Bibi has been imprisoned, accused of blasphemy against the prophet Mohammad, which made her a criminal in the sight of the law. She is still experiencing the injustice and hopelessness of the judicial system in Pakistan. Christians are often guilty until proved innocent, and innocence is not likely to ever be proved.
At the time of her arrest, Aasiya Bibi was first ordered by the judge to physical remand for 5 days. She later stated, "When I was arrested, I was assaulted and harassed by the police. I was in a state of shock for many days."
Aasiya stands accused of blasphemy under section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code, which calls for death or life imprisonment for defiling the name of the prophet Mohammad. Her trial verdict came in November of 2010, when the lower court found her guilty and sentenced her to death.
Although Pakistan’s laws of evidence strictly forbid "hearsay" evidence and require direct oral testimony, the two witnesses who were presented before the Magistrate Court in Aasiya Bibi’s case were not even present at the time of the alleged incident.
Aasiya Bibi has lodged an appeal to the Lahore High Court. Lawyers involved in the case remain confident that the testimonies upon which the prosecution based its case will not stand up before the more impartial and professional High Court of Lahore.
Legal experts expect the appeals process to take another year, during which her safety would best be ensured if she remains in the jail, where she is allowed to see her family once a week.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes
Rank: 8 Previous Rank: 14 Leader: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Government: Republic Religion: Islam Population: 186.4 million (5.3 million Christians) Source of persecution: Islamic extremism/Organized corruption