Asia Bibi has been on death row for several years, and after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected her last appeal, Bibi's husband has become distraught over the sentence.
"This appeal was [a] ray of hope but the rejection of the appeal has shattered my confidence in the Pakistani legal system," Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih said to the British Pakistani Christian Association according to Christian Today.
Shamim Masih of the British Pakistani Christian Association said that Ashiq was "weeping bitterly" over the result of his wife's death sentence.
"I have not told my children about the court decision. How can I? I am too scared of their reaction - they are already very depressed. We all were expecting her to come home and now this happens," Ashiq said.
Bibi, a Christian mother of five, was sentenced in 2010 under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Her lawyers have 30 days to file an appeal to Pakistan's Supreme Court in Islamabad. This is a long process that could take additional years of waiting, which could pose a problem as Bibi's health conditions worsen.
"How can I tell my children their mother is not free? This will kill them," Ashiq said.
In Muslim-majority Pakistan, blasphemy laws are upheld in the strictest form, and these charges can lead to the death penalty. Many reports have claimed these laws are sometimes used to settle personal scores. Belder believes that the Lahore High Court rejected Bibi's appeal under pressure by Islamists in the region.
Bibi's case drew international attention when 2 politicians who defended her - Punjab governor Salman Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatt - were assassinated in 2011 after they spoke out for reforms on the blasphemy laws in the country.
Other Christian leaders in Iran have spoken out against the ruling. Bishop Rufin Anthony called for a "Day of Prayer" for Bibi as the court's decision was "heart breaking," according to BosNewsLife. In addition, Bishop Thomas Dabre of neighboring India called Bibi's death sentence "an affront to the dignity of us all."
Samira Shackle wrote in the Guardian that change will not come to the blasphemy laws because extremist groups have power in Pakistan due to the majority of the public sharing their ideologies.
"The targeting of anyone who speaks out about blasphemy laws has had a chilling effect, and even outspoken liberal voices are reluctant to make the case for reform publicly," she said.
"While this self-censorship is entirely understandable in a country where the authorities provide little protection, it gives extremist ideas the space to flourish and grow. Without people in the halls of power willing to stand up and call for change, there is little hope for Bibi."
2 European Parliament legislators, Peter van Dalen and Bas Belder, have said that they plan to make an official appeal to Parliament on this case, according to BosNewsLife. They also plan on requesting the European parliament's president, the European Union's foreign policy chief, the European Commission president, and the Pope to act now to free Bibi.
"I am saddened and condemn this cowardly decision by Pakistani judges," Van Dalen said. "It's terrible that they did not find courage to acquit this young wife and mother of five children. Asia Bibi is innocent. She is already spending 5 years on death row, and must be freed now."
Bibi was 1st arrested in 2009 she got into an argument with Muslim women regarding sharing the same drinking water. This resulted in the Muslim women filing blasphemy charges against her for insulting the prophet Mohammed. If the death sentence remains upheld, Bibi will be the 1st woman in history to be legally executed under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
Source: Christian Daily, October 23, 2014