Peshawar: A Muslim cleric of an historic
mosque in the capital of Pakistan`s Khyber Paktunkhwa province
on Friday offered Rs 5 lakhs for killing Asia Bibi, a Christian
woman who was recently sentenced to death by a court for
allegedly committing blasphemy.
Maulana Yusaf Qureshi, the imam of the well-known
Mohabat Khan mosque, announced the reward for killing Asia
Bibi during his sermon at the Friday prayers.
He announced that he would pay Rs 5 lakh to the person
who killed "blasphemor Asia Bibi". The payment would be made
from the mosque`s fund, he said.
Qureshi is known for his outspoken ways and has issued
several controversial fatwas in the past.
The death sentence given by a lower court in Punjab to
Asia Bibu, a 45-year-old mother of five, has triggered a
heated debate across Pakistan on the need to repeal or amend a
controversial blasphemy law.
A report submitted to President Asif Ali Zardari by
Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti concluded that the
blasphemy case against her had been registered on "grounds of
personal enmity and the story narrated in the FIR was
concocted and mala fide".
Acting on a petition, the Lahore High Court has barred
President Zardari or any other government functionary from
pardoning the Christian woman.
Asia Bibi’s husband too has filed an appeal against
her death sentence in the Lahore High Court.
Hardline religious parties and clerics have threatened
they will launch nationwide protests if Asia Bibi is pardoned
or if the blasphemy law is changed.
The Taliban too have opposed any move to pardon the
Asia Bibi’s case dates back to last year.
She was arrested after a Muslim cleric accused her of
blasphemy following a row she had with a group of Muslim
women. She has denied the charge.
Her case has outraged liberals and rights groups in
the country and abroad, amid demands for her release.