Asia Bibi has been acquitted.

A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarised the nation.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours.

She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.

Demonstrations against the verdict are being held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan. Clashes with police have been reported.

“Hardliners” is a good deal too euphemistic. They want a woman killed for supposedly saying something they don’t like about a self-declared prophet who’s been dead for 14 centuries. She says she didn’t say the Naughty Things, but if she had, so what? At most it might be a reason to find a neighbor unpleasant and hostile; we don’t get to kill neighbors we find unpleasant and hostile. These “hardliners” who “support strong blasphemy laws” are rioting because they want to see a woman killed for trivial words. If a religion doesn’t inspire you to be more loving toward other humans, what the hell is the point of it? Never wiping your bum with your right hand? Not good enough.

Even after she is freed, the legacy of her case will continue. Shortly after her conviction a prominent politician, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was murdered for speaking out in her support and calling for the blasphemy laws to be reformed.

The killer – Mumtaz Qadri – was executed, but has become a cult hero with a large shrine dedicated to him on the outskirts of Islamabad.

His supporters also created a political party – campaigning to preserve the blasphemy laws – which gathered around two million votes in this year’s general election.

Two million votes for the party of murderous fanaticism – it’s tragic.

So the question is, will she be able to get out of Pakistan?

She has been offered asylum by several countries and is expected to leave the country.

Her daughter, Eisham Ashiq, had previously told the AFP news agency that if she were released: “I will hug her and will cry meeting her and will thank God that he has got her released.”

But the family said they feared for their safety and would likely have to leave Pakistan.

They will, of course. I just hope she and they can leave immediately, and will have support when they arrive. They’re not multi-lingual intellectuals, they’re farmers; moving to a foreign country is not going to be easy.

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