Pope wants Pak-Christian woman to be freed

Asia Bibi is facing the death sentence under the Blasphemy Law.

Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI has called for the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan facing the death sentence awarded by a court in the Nankana Sahib under the Blasphemy Law.

On Wednesday, Benedict told his weekly public audience that Christians in Pakistan “are often victims of violence and discrimination”, the Dawn reported.

He called for the release of Asia Bibi, who was recently sentenced to death after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and the trial judge ruled out the possibility that she was falsely accused, saying that there were no mitigating circumstances.

The Pope expressed his “spiritual closeness” to her, and said that he was praying that the “human dignity and fundamental rights of everyone in similar situations” is fully respected.

Asia, an illiterate woman and resident of Chak 3 of Ittanwali was sentenced in June 2009 under Section 295B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, commonly referred to as the Blasphemy Law, and has been in jail for over a year.

According to an investigation by the National Commission on the Status of Women, Asia’s case is rooted in personal vendetta by a landlord, who is using the issue to settle a score with her.