2010-11-23 15:42:15

Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy set free

(November 23, 2010) A Pakistani woman sentenced to death for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed has been released from prison following an international outcry that included a specific plea on her behalf from Pope Benedict XVI. Asia Bibi was pardoned by the president of Pakistan, the group International Christian Concern reported on Monday. Bibi, aged 45, was charged a year ago for blaspheming Mohammed in a conflict with fellow farm workers. She was sentenced to death earlier this month.
At the conclusion of last Wednesday's general audience, Pope Benedict appealed for her freedom. He mentioned the plight of Pakistani Christians in general, who along with Hindus make up only a 5% minority in the Muslim country. "In these days, the international community is following with great concern the difficult situation of Christians in Pakistan, who are often victims of violence and discrimination," the Pope said. Then he mentioned Bibi specifically saying : "Today I particularly express my spiritual closeness to Asia Bibi and her family, asking that she be given full liberty as soon as possible. I pray also for those who find themselves in similar situations, so that their human dignity and fundamental rights be fully respected."
Human rights groups have long decried Pakistan's blasphemy laws as a means by which people take advantage of religious minorities.

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