A nearly decade-long saga of a Christian mother facing a death sentence in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming Muhammad could soon end with her release and acquittal.
The mother of five children, Asia Bibi has been in jail for more than nine years. But according to International Christian Concern, Pakistan's Supreme Court heard her final appeal on Monday. ICC's William Stark says the court has reserved its judgment but the decision should come soon – and according to Stark's sources, it will be a positive ruling.
"... A lot of us are sitting on pins and needles right now, hoping that we finally get the good news that Asia is acquitted," Stark shares. "But based on my sources, a couple of whom were actually in the court room, the case ... went down ... really well and ... they are very hopeful that she will be acquitted soon."
ICC says the accusation against Bibi is based on "flimsy" evidence from a dispute in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim women. The women reportedly became angry when Bibi – a Christian woman they considered unclean – drank water from the same water bowl they did. After an argument with Bibi, the women reported to a local cleric that she had blasphemed against Muhammad.
Stark admits he's very excited for a positive outcome from Monday's proceedings. "Because if they do acquit her on the merits, Pakistan's Supreme Court could lay down precedent in regards to the country's notorious blasphemy laws that really start to turn the tide against extremism in the country," he says.
That's how important a decision this is, says Stark – and now the waiting game begins.