The case against Bibi remains the highest profile blasphemy case in Pakistan and has claimed the lives of two prominent Pakistani politicians.
In 2009, Bibi was accused of blasphemy following a dispute between herself and a group of Muslim co-workers harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. An argument broke out when Bibi drank from the same water basin as her Muslim co-workers, because she was a Christian and considered by the Muslim women to be unclean. A few days later, it was reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against Islam by allegedly saying, “My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?”
Since her arrest, Bibi’s case has become symbolic of the persecution facing Pakistani Christians and the widespread abuse of the country’s blasphemy laws.
Bibi was convicted, and she was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in November 2010 by the Session’s Court in District Nankana, Punjab.
Months later, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, visited Bibi in prison. Upon leaving the jail, he made a statement that the blasphemy laws had been misused in her case. Within days, he was murdered by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who had been convinced by radicals that this was an attack on Islam. Two months after this murder, in March 2011, the Federal Minister of Minorities’ Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti – the only Christian in the Pakistani cabinet – criticised the country’s blasphemy laws, noting that they were easily manipulated.
On 13 October 2016 the Supreme Court of Pakistan indefinitely adjourned Bibi’s appeal after one of the three Supreme Court Justices hearing the case decided to recuse himself.
Sources: The Herald, International Christian Concern