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The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy after drinking from a vessel used by Muslim women claims a lynch mob has been offered a bounty to kill her, reported the MailOnline.
In 2009, a group of Muslim women accused Asia Bibi, 50, of insulting the Prophet Muhammad after she attempted to drink from the same water bowl as them. A court found her guilty of blasphemy and sentenced her to death by hanging. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, 54, has been fighting for her freedom, but now fears that even if she is acquitted at an upcoming hearing in July, she will not be safe because clerics have put a bounty on her head.
"The Maulvis [clerics] want her dead,” he told the MailOnline. “They have announced a prize of [98 to $4,915] for anyone who kills Asia. They have even declared that if the court acquits her they will ensure the death sentence stands."
Despite the amount of people accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death in Pakistan, the Center for Research and Security Studies reported that between 1990 and July 2012, most executions were carried out by mobs, not the government.
Since Bibi’s sentence was handed down, Masih and their five children have been in hiding – changing houses 15 times in fear for their own lives. When going out, they usually travel after dark and cover their faces in fear of being recognized. Masih has hired an attorney to help get Bibi acquitted, but has had trouble paying after quitting his job to go into hiding.
Human rights groups and Christian organizations have been working to pressure the Pakistani government to acquit Bibi and get the blasphemy law abolished. Mahi hopes the support from other countries will help his wife’s case but he is not convinced.
“I understand the pressure from other countries for Asia’s release could help, but I have no idea what the government thinks about the pressure and whether it will make any difference,” he said.