Asia Bibi's appeal is set to be heard in the Supreme Court this October and Catholic church officials are hopeful that she will be acquitted. Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, was sentenced to death in 2010 but her execution was postponed by Pakistan's top court.
Bibi, a mother of five, was charged with blasphemy by her co-workers in 2009 when she allegedly drank water meant only for Muslims. Saif-ul-Malook, a Muslim, took over as her attorney when her former lawyer, a Christian, lost the case in the High Court. Her new lawyer is optimistic about the case even though he already received threats.
"I have high hopes that she will be released. I have been threatened as well but I knew what I was jumping into," he told UCA News.
Last April, the Islamist group Pakistan Sunni Tehreek demanded the execution of Bibi. Father Joseph Louis, former executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, said the outcome of the case is difficult to predict because the authorities are afraid of the extremists.
"The rulers are afraid of fanatics and only want to escape any blame. They don't care for the innocent. We can only pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to convinces the judges," Louis told UCA News.
Tahir Chaudhry, president of Pakistan Minority Alliance, also cited the radicalists' pressure on the judiciary but he is still hoping that Bibi will be acquitted.
Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) urged Christians to sign a petition to save Bibi from execution. The petition has already gathered 427,835 as of August 29.
According to ACLJ, Bibi's case would be the first legal execution in Pakistan over blasphemy if the court pushes through with her death sentence. The organization noted that hundreds have been killed in extrajudicial killings by violent mobs even when the accused have been acquitted by the courts.