November 11th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan

CNN's Reza Sayah and journalist Nasir Habib filed this report:

A Christian woman has been sentenced to  death for blasphemy in Pakistan, two police officials told CNN Thursday.

Asia Bibi was convicted of insulting Islam's prophet, Mohammed, while  working in a field with several Muslim women in a village southwest of Lahore.

She told them the Quran was "fake" and made comments about one of  Mohammed's wives and about his health in his final days, the police complaint  against her said.

She said that "the Quran is fake and your prophet remained in bed for one  month before his death because he had worms in his ears and mouth. He married  Khadija just for money and after looting her kicked her out of the house," local police official Muhammad Ilyas told CNN.

The initial complaint against Bibi was filed on June 14, 2009, by a  Muslim cleric, Ilyas said.

Police say the Muslim women reported the incident to Qari Muhammad Salim,  who later filed the police report. The cleric claims Bibi confessed to him and  apologized.

Muhammad Iqbal, a senior police official in the district of Nankana  Sahib, said she also was fined the equivalent of $1,100.

Police say Bibi was charged with breaking section 295-C of Pakistan's  penal code, which says: "Whoever ... defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

Former Pakistani Supreme Court Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid told CNN he  doesn't recall a death sentence ever being carried against someone convicted of  breaking Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws.

Death sentences in these cases are almost always overturned by higher  courts on appeal, he said.

Death sentences are carried out by hanging in Pakistan.

CNN has not yet been able to contact Bibi or her family directly. It is not clear when the sentence was handed down.


Pakistan is more than 96 percent Muslim, according to the Pew Forum on  Religion & Public Life.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Pakistan • Persecution

soundoff (702 Responses)
  1. Jean

    As a secular humanist, I am VERY grateful for the religious tolerance we have in the US, imperfect though it may be. However, don't give Christianity too much credit. Christians have been barbaric themselves many times in the past. Think of the inquisition (poor Galileo) and the crusades. In recent times, most of the atrocities that occurred when Yugoslavia separated were committed by Christian Serbs against Muslims.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
    • Hitchens and Dawkins

      Okay, you don't want to give Christians too much credit, how about you atheists? Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. They kill more people this century than the crusades did, let's see, how long ago?

      November 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Reality

      The "skinny" on human atrocities: http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm#20worst

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries
      1 63 million Second World War 20C
      2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C
      40 million Genghis Khan 13C
      4 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C
      5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C
      6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C
      20 million Joseph Stalin 20C
      8 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C
      9 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
      10 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C
      11 15 million First World War 20C
      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C
      13 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C
      14 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
      10 million Xin Dynasty 1C
      16 9 million Russian Civil War 20C
      17 8 million Fall of Rome 5C
      8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
      19 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C
      7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      November 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @"Hitchens and Dawkins"

      Hitler was Catholic and used Christianized "anti-Jew" propaganda to kill Jews, Aryan Supremacy propaganda to wipe out everyone else, and was obviously insane.
      Mao was a Communist before anything else, used his "personality cult" mixed with Communist propaganda as a basis for murdering all those people...if he was an atheist, he didn't use it as a motivation like religious people do with religion.
      Stalin had brain lesions caused by syphilis, became more and more insane, and did it all in the name of Communism, not any atheistic tendencies he may have had.
      You keep bringing up these people as if they were Atheists incarnate, but they were insane, politically motivated (Hitler added religion into his politics), and their murderousness has NOTHING to do with atheism.
      Your argument is completely worthless.

      November 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Bill

    You think if she pleads insanity she will be forgiven? Naaah.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  3. woka woka woka


    November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  4. Ruth

    Notice it is written as fact, there is no mention that she "allegedly" said what she said? Does that mean anyone can say, "so and so said this", and they will be put to death? I know the cleric said she confessed, but I'm wondering how that confession was obtained. Maybe they just wanted to get rid of this woman because she is a Christian.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  5. marriedlady

    First of all, Muslims accept Christians and Jews as people of the book. Many Muslims fail to follow this principal. Second, she is in a predominately Muslim country, she should have known this was not going to go well. I think the death penalty is harsh punishment, maybe she should be encouraged to study Islam before saying falsehoods. I do not think any Christian would like someone defaming Jesus(pbuh).

    November 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  6. abacobeachbum

    Of course the punishment is extreme...but you'd have to be a complete idiot to say something like that in a country ruled by Muslims and of which you are the minority.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bill

      True, her lawyer should claim mental disability, unfortunately that does not over there because the whole country is mentally disabled.

      November 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  7. Bill

    Wonderful country Pakistan. When you go shopping for a coat, they ask you, " with explosives or without". Same with cars.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  8. Total_Recall

    India is way cooler than Pakistan.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  9. Jalal from Chitral

    Why couldn't all Pakistani girls be like her?

    November 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • P'Cola, Fl

      You have to be joking!

      November 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • JohnRJ08

      I am totally creeped out by this. It's like a cross between a belly dancer and a Janet Jackson video.

      November 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      she looks like she is being forced to do this by a marine in jalalabad holding a gun to her head!
      no dignified female (even christian) would be doing this on camera for total strangers to see.
      or else she is poor and in need of money.

      November 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  10. Cielo

    I'd hate to think what they'd do me after I ream each and every religious fantasy on the planet!

    November 11, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  11. ethnocentric

    I knew I forgot something: I view myself as conservative (not necessarily Republican–both sides are corrupt and untrustworthy) and resent the assertion that I would like to hang those with differing views. Stop trying to sound so enlightened and then sticking your foot in your mouth with such sweeping generalizations.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  12. Frank Mondana

    It doesn't take an Atheist, of which I am one, to know that any such actions taken using the word "blasphemy" are repugnant and evil. It is also another example of why the idea of a "stern, but loving" God is ridiculous.

    The very fact that these humans have judged another human flies in the face of the all of the teachings of the "big 3" religions.

    The 3 major religions argue that they worship the same God. If this was the case there would be no reason for different religions. After all, if the Grand High Pu-bah ™ is laying down the law there can be no disagreement. Right?
    Even more amazing is how the Bible, Torah, and Koran that share the same source yet are interpreted in an untold number of ways; even amongst those of the same faith. These tomes are supposed to be the "Word of God ™" and not open to interpretation by mere mortals yet, despite this strict edict every single man or woman interpret the words in their own way.
    Although, the more intelligent humans saw an opportunity to use fear and faith to keep everyone in line and filling the coffers.
    To me, every single religion out there are scams that keep a few of the elite wealthy and in power while the unwashed masses follow along like lemmings.
    This is why the "Big 3(tm)" stress that you are not allowed to use any kind of reasoning or even mild thinking about the faith and its dogma. If the drones all start using book-learnin' and free thinking they just might get all uppity and leave. Such an exodus would mean no more $25,000 vestments (when simple robes would do), gold plated candle-holders, $100,000,000 mosques, and all the other trappings of wealth that the common slobs are not allowed.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
    • ethnocentric

      What you describe is why I do not follow organized religion. I believe in a creator, or God if you will, for my own reasons and I feel no need to convert anyone to my 'faith' and create yet another temple, church, or mosque.

      November 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • Hitchens and Dawkins

      You say you are an atheist, but then you invoke that there are evils in the world? What is your basis for establishing evil if in fact, we are simply accidental organisms? If you invoke societal norms as the basis for good and evil, then that will change from generation to generation, or country to country and there will be no real foundation. So what is evil to you, may not be evil to someone else, and no ultimate authority can be there to regulate. So you claim to use your mind, but all throughout your post, I see writings absent of real knowledge. You cite the Big 3 as all worshiping the same God. You are very ignorant. Christianity worships Jesus Christ, for He is God. However, both Islam and Judaism reject Jesus as God. And actually, in Christianity, it is absolutely fair to hold people accountable. And Christians are to judge people inside the Church. You will find that in the New Testament, if you take the time to look. Judge not, lest thee be judged is what you are thinking of, well, on that point, the understanding of the entire scope of the Christian text obviously eludes you. And I won't give you a lesson on that, you are free to wallow in your ignorance. What is it to me if you go through life completely blind?
      You think that Christianity is a scam? Excluding Catholicism, which I admit is a raping of the Biblical text, explain to me who began the scam, how it got started and perpetuated, and how gentle pastors of today, who mostly live very conservative lifestyles (not the TV preachers, who many, I admit are charlatans and i question if many are truly christian) are continuing to scam? You think you are rational, but I guarantee you intellects far greater than your own have found extraordinary merit in the Bible and in its extraordinary staying power. By they way, did you know the reason the whole world has a week, is because of the 6-day creation and the 7th day of rest? There is no astronomical reason for a week other than the Bible set it up. So whether you admit it or not, Every single day you live, you are using systems in the bible to do so. Go ahead and thank the God of the Bible for your weekends.


      November 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Reality

    Let it rip!!

    More on Islam and farting


    "Farting is problematic in Islam. During prayer, a worshipper must not fart. Sahih Bukhari (1.4.137) writes that Allah will not accept a Muslim's prayer if he/she passes wind during the ritual.

    The exception occurs if the worshipper farts silently, or the fart does not smell. In such a case, he/she may continue with the prayer (ibid, 1.4.139).Sunaan Nasai (1.162) writes that if you fart during a prayer you must redo ablution. Sahih Bukhari (9.86.86) says that for a "farter" Allah will not accept his/her prayer until he/she performs another ablution."

    November 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  14. Dottie

    D. Vadik There will come a time when you will wish that you were one of the "crazy right wing Christians". There is a God and there is a hell and you will find out when you start burning and it never ends.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Patrick

      Your god sounds like satan to me.

      November 11, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • beepbeepvroomvroomvroom

      I hope you don't take any pride in saying that because it almost sounds as if you'll fit right in burning alongside us.

      November 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  15. Robrob

    Interesting how we tolerate this behavior from our "allies," Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • Patrick

      Look at whom else has been supported by our government over the years and weep. The folks that love power, understand each other. They are birds of a feather. They seem to be inconsistent until you look at them that way. Read "THe Family."

      November 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  16. Bobby

    Maybe Mr Obama is on to something by increasing trade with India...

    November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      India has become Israel's second largest export destination after the United States, as the Jewish state focusses on tap-ping potential in the Asian markets.

      November 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  17. Fozzie

    This lady is a moron? Get her out of the gene pool! You're in Pakistan and you openly insult Mohammad. Does she not read the papers? Was she trying to commit suicide by cop? This is not some obscure law that no one knows. I have never set foot outside the US and even I know that if I was visiting a Muslim country NOT to insult Mohammad. She's lucky it's hanging and not stoning!

    November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • beadrock

      Have you considered that they might of known she was a Christian and made up some of the stuff that she said. We don't have any comment from her as to her side of what was said so don't think we can fully judge the situation and call her a moron.

      November 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  18. Sagebrush Shorty

    Let's keep reaching out and building bridges to Islam .Worked fine so far, don't you think?

    November 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Patrick

      What can you do? It is the fastest growing religion in the world. Now, what could Christians have done to make them less popular? Hmnm

      November 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  19. Sara

    Wow – what would of happened if she put this on face book.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  20. Reality

    Time for some "blaspheming". Read it and weep Muslim world. All non-Muslims please join in!!!

    From Sir Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses", p. 376, paperback issue – for those 1 billion Muslims to read as they are forbidden to purchase or read said book:

    One of the passages that prompted the crazy Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Sir Rushdie:

    Mahound = Mohammed
    Gibreel = Gabriel

    "The faithful lived by lawlessness, but in those years Mahound – or should one say the Archangel Gibreel? – should one say Al-Lah? – became obsessed by law.

    Amid the palm-trees of the oasis Gibreel appeared to the Prophet and found himself spouting rules, rules, rules, until the faithful could scarcely bear the prospect of any more revelation, Salman said, rules about every da-mn thing, if a man farts let him turn his face to the wind, a rule about which hand to use for the purpose of cleaning one's behind.

    It was as if no aspect of human existence was to be left unregulated, free. The revelation – the recitation- told the faithful how much to eat, how deeply they should sleep, and which se-xual positions had received divine sanction, so that they leamed that so-domy and the missionary position were approved of by the archangel, whereas the forbidden postures included all those in which the female was on top.

    Gibreel further listed the permitted and forbidden subjects of conversation, and earmarked the parts of the body which could not be scratched no matter how unbearably they might itch.

    He vetoed the consumption of prawns, those bizarre other-worldly creatures which no member of the faithful had ever seen, and required animals to be killed slowly, by bleeding, so that by experiencing their deaths to the full they might arrive at an understanding of the meaning of their lives, for it is only at the moment of death that living creatures understand that life has been real, and not a sort of dream.

    And Gibreel the archangel specified the manner in which a man should be buried, and how his property should be divided, so that Salman the Persian got to wondering what manner of God this was that sounded so much like a businessman.

    This was when he had the idea that destroyed his faith, because he recalled that of course Mahound himself had been a businessman, and a damned successful one at that, a person to whom organization and rules came naturally, so how excessively convenient it was that he should have come up with such a very businesslike archangel, who handed down the management decisions of this highly corporate, if noncorporeal, God."

    November 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Robrob

      So your point is basing your life on a book of fairy tales is stupid?

      November 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
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