Protests over ac­quit­tal of Chris­tian end

The Sunday Independent - - WORLD - Reuters

IS­LAM­ABAD: A Pak­istani Is­lamist party has said it will call off protests over the ac­quit­tal of a Chris­tian woman who faced hang­ing on blas­phemy charges, strik­ing a deal with the gov­ern­ment to end three days of protests in ma­jor cities.

Un­der the deal, the gov­ern­ment agreed to seek to bar Asia Bibi, a mother of five who has been on death row since 2010, from leav­ing the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment of the agree­ment shared by the ul­tra-Is­lamist Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) group. The gov­ern­ment has con­firmed the agree­ment. Bibi’s case has out­raged Chris­tians world­wide and been a source of divi­sion within Pak­istan, where two politi­cians who sought to help her were as­sas­si­nated. Is­lamist par­ties, whose ral­ly­ing cry is for blas­phe­mers to be killed, have framed Bibi’s im­pend­ing re­lease as the gov­ern­ment caved in to Western de­mands.

Bibi was ac­cused of mak­ing deroga­tory re­marks about Is­lam af­ter neigh­bours ob­jected to her drink­ing water from their glass be­cause she was not Mus­lim. But a three-judge panel set up to hear the ap­peal ruled the ev­i­dence was in­suf­fi­cient. The top court’s de­ci­sion had en­raged the TLP, whose lead­ers took to the streets to call for the death of the judges who made the de­ci­sion and the oust­ing of the gov­ern­ment. Bibi’s where­abouts were not known on Fri­day. Her fam­ily was in hid­ing last week, with spec­u­la­tion rife that she would be se­cretly sent out of the coun­try by the au­thor­i­ties.

The prospect of Bibi be­ing al­lowed to leave Pak­istan was un­ac­cept­able to the TLP’s po­lit­i­cal chief, Khadim Hus­sain Rizvi.

“There will be a war if they send Asia out of the coun­try,” Rizvi said.

As part of the agree­ment, any­one ar­rested dur­ing the protests would be re­leased. |

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