The Pakistan Supreme Court has delayed the Asia Bibi blasphemy case’s final appeal because one of the three judges hearing the case recused himself, reports Al Jazeera.
Bibi, a Pakistani Christian, was charged with a death sentence in 2010 for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman in her village. The argument sparked off when the Muslim woman refused to let Bibi drink water from the same cup. The High Court in the Punjab Province confirmed Bibi’s death sentence in October last year.
Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rahman recused himself citing a conflict of interest: “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” AFP reports.
Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law and his support for Bibi.
Bibi’s case has been a contentious issue for Islamist hardliners, liberals and the Christian community. Islamist hardliners have been lobbying for her execution. Her four daughters and husband have received multiple death threats and are in hiding.
Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy. However, the Guardian reports that at least five people who have been accused of blasphemy have died in custody.
Humans rights advocates have criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, saying that minorities living in the region are often targeted and the laws are used to settle personal vendettas. According to the BBC, Muslims are a majority of those prosecuted under the law.
The Supreme Court did not set a new date for the appeal.