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Pakistan’s Supreme Court Acquits Aasia Bibi, Christian Mother on Death Row for ‘Blasphemy’

Pakistan’s supreme court on Wednesday acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has spent eight years on death row on blasphemy charges. Bibi was accused of insulting the prophet Muhammad after making an offhand remark to two Muslim women during an argument over water in 2009. She was sentenced to death on the charges in November 2010, and a higher court upheld her conviction years later. Her case sparked international concern over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and at least two Pakistani officials—then-governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer and federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti—were assassinated in 2011 for defending Bibi and calling for changes to the country’s blasphemy legislation. In response to Bibi’s acquittal, hard-line religious clerics have vowed to hold countrywide protests and urged supporters to take to the streets.