Asia Bibi is a 47-year-old mother of five. She’s also a member of Pakistan’s very small Christian community. In 2010, she offended a group of Muslim fellow farmworkers by drinking from a cup of water she had brought for them to drink. The workers then demanded she convert to Islam to protect the purity of the water. She refused. They later accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
Asia Bibi was then arrested, convicted of blasphemy, and sentenced to death by hanging. This week, a Pakistani court ordered her release after eight years of mostly solitary confinement for lack of evidence in the case. Prime Minister Imran Khan praised the court’s ruling.
In response, Islamist demonstrators have now taken to streets across the country to protest her release. The protesters have registered their outrage by throwing shoes at posters of Khan and Pakistan’s chief justice. Khan has threatened a forceful government response if protesters don’t disperse. As of this writing, the protests continue to grow.
Asia Bibi would like to leave Pakistan. Her current whereabouts are unclear, and the government is not commenting. We will soon learn what sort of leader Imran Khan intends to be.