Pakistan’s most famous prisoner Asia Bibi has been nominated for European Union’s high-status award. Asia Bibi who is currently behind the bars and is waiting for a hearing of her appeal against capital punishment is nominated by a group of European legislators.
Asia has been nominated for Sakharov Prize – a prestigious award. She has been nominated for ‘Freedom of Thought’ by the legislators who form an influential group European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR). This European Conservatives and Reformists Group is the third largest group in the European Parliament.
The European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), nominated Asia Bibi late on Wednesday, September 13. A member of ECR’s faction, ChristenUnion-SGP Peter van Dalen said: “Her case is a symbol for others hurt in their freedom of expression and especially freedom of religion.” Peter van Dalen is a Dutch European parliamentarian. “It is good that my colleagues in the ECR and I continue to defend the rights of Bibi and many others,” he stated.
For this purpose, European Parliament will conduct voting, when the parliamentarians will cast their votes in favor of their favorite candidate. If a majority casts votes in favor of Asia Bibi; she could win €50,000 award. Sakharov Prize is considered Europe’s most prestigious Human Rights award. This award is named after Andrei Sakharov , a scientist and dissident hailing from the Soviet era. The award ceremony will be held on December 10, in Strasbourg, France.
Asia Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. Later on, in 2010, a court in district Nankana awarded her capital punishment, which was later challenged by her defense counsel and was upheld by a two-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014. Her appeal case is currently pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Supposedly her final appeal hearing on October 13 was meant to wind up the most high profile case of the country, however, it was delayed as one of the judges refused to be a part of the three member bench that was to hear the case.
On October 13, 2016 Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, one of the three judges hearing Asia Bibi’s appeal case said that he does not want to be part of the case. “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” he told the court. Consequently, the court was adjourned.
“…The case continues to be postponed due to the problems of this country. We are in the midst of a continuing war between Islam and Kufr (infidels). But our hopes for her release are many,” says her defense counsel Advocate Saif-ul-Malook.