By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian mother of four to death for "insulting" Islam's Prophet Muhammad, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, November 10. Asia Bibi, 45, is believed to be the first woman sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy law.
She has been imprisoned since June last year for allegedly making derogatory statements about Muhammad, charges she strongly denies, her family said.
Bibi, a farm worker, was detained following an incident on June 14, 2009, when a discussion about Christianity and Islam arose with her Muslim colleagues, according to trial observers. During the conversation, Muslims reportedly accused the woman of insulting the prophet Muhammad and beat her.
Five days later other Muslim villagers allegedly assaulted Asia. When police arrived, they detained Bibi and registered a blasphemy case against her, according to rights activists involved in the case.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws stipulate that defaming the Islamic prophet Muhammad punishable by death or life imprisonment. Critics say Muslim radicals have used the law to repeatedly incite violence against Christians, other religious minorities and even Muslims.
In August 2009, a Muslim mob killed 11 Christians following a reported false allegation of the desecration of the Koran in Gorja area of Pakistan, church groups said.
Dozens of members of Christians and members of other religious minorities are known to have been detained in recent years on blasphemy charges, according to U.S. officials and human rights groups.
"It’s deeply disturbing to hear that someone will be executed for allegedly making ‘blasphemous’ remarks against Muhammad," added Jonathan Racho, regional manager for South Asia of advocacy group International Christian Concern. "We are very concerned for Asia and her family...By sentencing her to death, Pakistan has once again demonstrated that it’s intolerance of religious minorities,” Racho said.
Bibi's family was expected to appeal the sentence.