Atheist TV host Bill Maher has criticized Islam again on his HBO show "Real Time," this time speaking out against the death sentence for blasphemy handed to a Christian mother of five from Pakistan.
"This is not a blogger, this is not a mob on the street, this is a very high court in Pakistan [that said] a woman said a bad thing about the prophet, and now she must due.
"So yeah, Sam Harris and I were way off on that," Maher said sarcastically, referring to a debate about Islam involving himself, atheist author Harris, and actor and director Ben Affleck.
Asia Bibi's punishment was upheld last week by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan, after the woman was initially sentenced to death in 2010. The Christian mother got into an argument with a group of Muslim women who were offended that she drank from the same water bowl as them during an incident in 2009, and they later accused her of blasphemy against Islam.
A number of human rights and persecution watchdog groups have spoken out against Bibi's sentence. The minority Catholic community in Pakistan has called for her release, urging Christians to offer prayers and not lose hope.
"The confirmation of the conviction is bad news for all of us. The lawyers did their best and the whole Christian community was waiting with confidence. On Sunday we will pray in our churches for the life of this innocent woman," said Emmanuel Yousaf, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, in an interview with Fides News Agency.
"In any case hope remains alive: we will appeal to the Supreme Court, and I want to remember the cases in which the Court overturned the sentences handed down in the previous degrees of judgment. I remember a story we followed closely with the Justice and Peace Commission: the case of Ayub Masih, a Christian, also sentenced to death for blasphemy and saved thanks to the acquittal verdict of the Supreme Court," Yousaf added.
In an appearance earlier in October, Affleck slammed Maher's continued criticism of Islam, calling his views on the religion "gross, racist, disgusting."
The HBO host, who has spoken out against Islam a number of times in recent weeks due to terror group ISIS' ideology, pushed back against liberal voices who do not want to see the religion criticized.
"Freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals, these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what's lacking, then they get upset," Maher said.