As many members of the international religious freedom and human rights community will remember, Asia Bibi is a Pakistani laborer who was convicted in 2010 of blasphemy following an incident in which she was accused by three Muslim coworkers of making blasphemous comments about the Prophet. Despite Asia’s claims that she did not make such comments, and despite her appeal to the Lahore High Court in 2014, Asia was sentenced to death. After nearly 8 years in prison, Asia was finally acquitted of her charges thanks to the help of lawyer Saif-ul Malook, and has since evacuated Pakistan with her husband to Canada, where their two children awaited her release.
Now, after a couple years celebrating the release of Asia Bibi, it has now been confirmed that Bibi’s brother, Younus, was killed after he visited his farms, and his body with a slit throat was found and traced back to the scene. It is believed that Younus was murdered as an act of revenge against Asia Bibi’s acquittal, as there have been a few notable incidents in the past in which individuals associated with Bibi’s case were killed as a means of revenge. In 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was assassinated after he publicly advocated for Bibi’s release. Not long after, Shahbaz Bhatti, Religious Minorities Minister, was shot and killed for his criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are part of Pakistan’s Penal Code and which have been misapplied to accuse and imprison religious minorities not only in Pakistan, but in many other nations as well.