After spending nearly a decade fighting for her life against charges of blasphemy, Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi is finally free thanks to the country's Supreme Court overturning her conviction.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) political party, led by firebrand Muslim leader Khadim Rizvi, organized rallies in cities across the South Asian country on Thursday, despite a warning from Prime Minister Imran Khan not to "force the government to have to take action".
Since her conviction, Mrs Bibi has spent her time in a filthy, 6ft by 9ft death row cell where she lives in fear of attack from other inmates. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?
The party has launched street protests blocking roads in major cities to condemn the ruling, which was welcomed by human rights advocates.
In February, Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, and one of her daughters met Pope Francis shortly before Rome's ancient Coliseum was lit in red one evening in solidarity with persecuted Christians, and Bibi in particular.
"At any cost, we do not accept Supreme Court's one-sided verdict to release Asia", stated Islamic protest leader Qazi Ahsan Ahmed.
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"While this is a day of victory and celebration for Asia Bibi, her family, and all those who have relentlessly prayed for her, Asia and Christians in Pakistan need continued prayers", the ACLJ's Jordan Sekulow said, calling for the Pakistani government to provide Bibi with security and safe passage to someplace safer. "We thank God very much that he's heard our prayers - and the prayers of so many people who have longed for Asia Bibi's release over all these years of suffering and anguish". "She has no other option and she will leave the country soon", he said.
Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar announced the verdict on Wednesday to a packed courtroom and ordered Asia Bibi released, declaring Asia Bibi innocent.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Islamists blocked a key road linking the capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday, demanding Bibi be publicly hanged. The two Muslim women who pressed charges against Bibi denied they quarrelled with her, saying her outbursts against Islam were unprovoked.
"As Prime Minister, Imran Khan says he wants to change Pakistan", said Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman, a protester with the Jammat e-Islami conservative group.
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The landmark ruling could ignite mass protests of violence by hardline Islamists in Pakistan, where insulting the religion is punishable by death. The Muslim women gathered, bitter arguments ensued and the women kept pressuring Bibi to convert to Islam.
Ghulam Mustafa, a lawyer representing a provincial cleric in Punjab who had filed the initial blasphemy charges, asked the supreme court to review her acquittal.
Khan condemned the protesting groups on Wednesday after cleric Afzal Qadri urged supporters to kill the three judges who acquitted Bibi, revolt against army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and overthrow Khan's government.
The blasphemy laws were promulgated by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s.
The case was based on flimsy evidence, they said, and proper procedures had not been followed.
Authorities say they have stepped up security near an undisclosed detention facility where Bibi is being held for her safety.
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The Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned Asia Bibi's conviction and death sentence for blasphemy.