A Christian woman on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy has been put in solitary confinement over fears of attacks by vigilantes enraged over a high-profile ruling in a separate blasphemy case that moderates said struck a blow against religious extremism in the country.
Prison officials and rights activists said this week that they were concerned for Asia Bibi’s life due to the security threat and her worsening health. The mother-of-five, whose plight has prompted prayers from the Vatican, has been on death row since she was convicted in 2010 of committing blasphemy.
Bibi’s lawyer Sardar Mushtaq has said his client was arrested after Muslim women told a cleric in a village in the eastern Punjab province that she had made “derogatory remarks” about the Prophet Muhammad. He said the trouble began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim, setting off a heated verbal exchange.
Bibi denies the charges against her. The Supreme Court agreed in July to hear an appeal against her sentence, but no date has yet been set. She was placed in solitary confinement last week at the women’s prison in the city of Multan, an official there told Agence France-Presse.
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