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Eighty-six Pakistani Islamists handed decades in prison for role in violent rallies over Christian woman’s blasphemy acquittal

Eighty-six Pakistani Islamists handed decades in prison for role in violent rallies over Christian woman’s blasphemy acquittal
A Pakistani court has sentenced 86 members of a radical Islamist group to 55-year prison terms each for instigating violent protests against the acquittal of a Christian woman who had been accused of insulting Islam.

The decision was announced on Thursday by the court in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad. A leader of the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, whose members were among the defendants, said that they would appeal the ruling.

The 86 were accused of damaging public property, assault and disrupting public order, as part of their unruly protest against the acquittal of Asia Bibi. The Christian woman was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death, after allegedly quarreling with Muslim farm workers who refused to drink from the same water container as her due to her religion.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court threw out her conviction in 2018, sparking relief from human rights observers, while enraging conservative elements in the country. Several high-ranking Pakistani officials were assassinated after defending Bibi and calling for her release.

Bibi was kept in protective custody after she was freed in October 2018, in light of numerous death threats and high-price bounties placed on her by radical clerics. She joined the rest of her family in Canada in May 2019.

Also on rt.com Pakistan’s Islamist party says judges who acquitted Christian woman ‘deserve death’

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