Pope greets family of Pakistani woman accused of blasphemy

Vatican City, April 15: Pope Francis on Wednesday gave a special greeting to members of the family of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, Vatican Radio reported.

Francis greeted Bibi's husband and daughter and her lawyer Joseph Nadeem at the end of his general audience at St. Peter's Basilica.


The three are currently in Italy to ask its government and parliament and the European Union to pressurise Islamabad for Bibi's release. [Pope wants Pak-Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy released]

Bibi has become an international symbol of injustice since a district court in Punjab convicted her in 2010 under Pakistan's blasphemy law and sentenced her to death by hanging.

Her conviction must be upheld by Pakistan's Supreme Court before the sentence can be carried out and she could still be saved by a presidential pardon, Nadeem told Vatican Radio.

"This could happen if the international community pressurises the Pakistani government and asks for the freedom of Asia Bibi," Nadeem said. [Pak religious parties say pardoning blasphemy accused Christian woman 'unIslamic']

"If the Church gets involved it could be (easier to secure her freedom)," he added.

Critics of the blasphemy law say it is abused to settle personal scores and to persecute religious minorities in Pakistan such as Christians.


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