(Photo: Mohsin Raza)
A Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death has successfully appealed a court's ruling, just as a petition demanding her release has reached over 500,000 signatures.
Asia Noreen Bibi, whose case has received global interest, including that of Pope Benedict XVI, was sentenced to death by hanging in 2011 after spending more than a year in a Pakistani prison.
Asia Bibi, a wife and mother, is accused of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad by Muslim witnesses, which she has denied.
Calls for Asia Bibi's release have increased as she awaits the Lahore High Court's ruling on her appeal in jail. A petition for Asia Bibi's release, which hopes to reach one million signatures, has already reached 560,848.
As the Christian Post previously reported, Christians from around the globe are uniting in a bid to prevent Asia Bibi's death. The president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, Naveed Walter, is also calling for Asia Bibi to be pardoned and released.
"We appeal to all Christians, Non-Government Organizations, human rights activists and political workers to take part in this peaceful protest … so that this day will become 'the voice' against the persecution of Christians in Pakistan," Walter said.
Although Asia Bibi may be released, critics argue that her life will remain in jeopardy due to an increase in religious tensions in the predominantly Muslim nation, according to CatholicCulture.org.
Two prominent leaders, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minority Affairs Minister, and Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, were assassinated in 2011 after defending Asia Bibi and criticizing Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
Christians account for less than five percent of Pakistan's population, with approximately 95 percent of people identifying themselves as Muslims.
An online video calling for Asia Bibi's release has gone viral on social networking site YouTube.
The video was reportedly made by two college students from Asbury College in Kentucky, and can be viewed below.
To sign the petition calling for Asia Bibi's release, please visit: http://www.callformercy.com/