Jailed Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was moved into solitary confinement in the Multan Women’s Prison last week, following “genuine threats” to her life by angry supporters of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws.
“She could be killed by any inmate or even a prison guard, so we have to be careful,” a prison official told AFP.
The latest threats against Asia Bibi were attributed to Muslim vigilantes protesting a ruling by the Pakistan Supreme Court, which on Oct. 7 upheld the death sentence against former Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s murderer. Before his death in January 2011, Taseer had called for reform of the nation’s frequently abused blasphemy laws and visited the Christian mother of five in prison.
Arrested in June 2009, Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010, when she was convicted in a lower court of alleged blasphemy in a dispute with a Muslim neighbour.
The Supreme Court agreed in July 2015 to hear her appeal, which is still pending before the court in Islamabad.
A total of 1,400 alleged blasphemy cases were registered in Pakistan in 2014, Fides News reports. During the same year, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, local courts sentenced three people to death, six to life imprisonment and three to two years’ imprisonment.