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Pakistan Upholds Death Sentence for Asia Bibi


A Pakistani court is upholding the death sentence for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blaspheming the prophet Mohammed.

Bibi, a 50-year-old mother of five, was sentenced in 2010. Although the appeals court rejected Bibi's appeal this week, her lawyers vowed to take it to Pakistan's Supreme Court.

"We have the right to appeal in 30 days," said lawyer Sardar Mushtaq. "We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life."

Bibi's case drew global attention in 2011 when two politicians were killed for supporting her.

Over the years, various international human rights organizations have called for her release. On Thursday, Amnesty International said Bibi's sentence is a "grave injustice."

"Her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed," Amnesty's Deputy Asia Pacific Director David Griffiths said.

Under Pakistani blasphemy laws, insulting the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad can be punished with life imprisonment or death. But experts say the laws often are exploited for personal gain.

Mushtaq said Bibi 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. He said the trouble actually began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim.

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