Thousands of Islamist demonstrators in Pakistan continue to violently protest the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was falsely accused of blasphemy and spent the last eight years on death row.
Protesters clashed with police, burned cars and disrupted traffic, blocking ambulances. Schools across Pakistan have been closed and a major zone in Islamabad is sealed off.
Asia Bibi was charged in 2009 with insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad after drinking from a cup of water before allowing fellow Muslim farm laborers drink first. After being beaten in her home, Bibi’s accusers say that she confessed to blasphemy. She was sentenced to death in 2010.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her sentence. For that, the Supreme Court judges “deserve to be killed,” said Muhammad Afzal Qadri, leader of the extremist Islamist Tehreek-i-Labaik party. But Bibi has not been released from prison, as negotiations for her safety broke down between the government and Islamists.
“Which government can function like this, blackmailed by protests?” asked Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing the Islamists for “inciting [people] for their own political gain.”
Radical religious groups, including a charity founded by UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, vowed to join the protests today.