Asia Noreen (Urdu: آسیہ نو رین, better known as Asia (also spelled Aasiya) Bibi, Urdu: آسیہ بی بی, born c. 1971) is a Pakistani Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. The verdict, which would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention. If executed, Noreen would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy. Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for opposing the blasphemy laws.
The case 
In June 2009, Asia Noreen, a farmhand from the village of Ittan Wali in Sheikhupura District, was asked to fetch water; she complied, but some of her Muslim fellow workers refused to drink the water as they considered Christians to be "unclean". Apparently some arguments ensued. There had already been a running feud between Noreen and a neighbour about some property damage. Later some coworkers complained to a cleric that Noreen made derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad. A mob came to her house, beating her and members of her family before she was rescued by the police. However, the police initiated an investigation about her remarks, resulting in her arrest and prosecution under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code. She spent more than a year in jail. In November 2010 Muhammed Naveed Iqbal, a judge at the court of Sheikhupura, Punjab, sentenced her to death by hanging. Additionally, a fine of the equivalent of $1,100 was imposed.
As of November 2011, Asia Bibi remains in prison, more than two years after the alleged incident and one year after the death sentence.
International response 
Pope Benedict XVI called for clemency for Noreen, and the conviction has also been criticised by human rights groups. According to Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dyan Hasan, "The law creates this legal infrastructure which is then used in various informal ways to intimidate, coerce, harass and persecute."
Possible presidential pardon 
According to the Governor of Punjab who investigated the affair for the President Asif Ali Zardari, Noreen is likely to be pardoned if the High Court does not suspend the sentence. However, the local imam threatened that if she is pardoned or released, some people would "take the law into their own hands". Her family has received threats and has gone into hiding.
Assassinations for comments on Noreen 
On 4 January 2011, at Kohsar Market of Islamabad, the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated by a member of his security team, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, because of his defence of Noreen and opposition to the blasphemy law. Taseer was outspoken in his criticism of the law and the verdict in the Asia Bibi case. The next day, thousands turned up for governor Salman Taseer's funeral in Lahore in spite of warnings by the Taliban and some clerics. Thousands of Muslims also rallied in support of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan after the murder.
Pakistan's Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan's cabinet, was also assassinated, on 2 March 2011, reportedly also for his position on blasphemy laws. He was shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car near his residence in Islamabad.
On 26 August 2011, Shahbaz Taseer, the 28-year-old son of murdered Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was kidnapped. 
See also 
- Human rights in Pakistan
- Christianity in Pakistan
- Christianity in Punjab, Pakistan
- Qamar David
- Rifta Masih
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- Your signature to save Asia Bibi and Pakistan, AsiaNews.it.
- Online petition drive launched by The Voice of the Martyrs to call for Asia's release, www.CallForMercy.com