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Court Hears Appeal Of Pakistan Woman's Death Sentence For Blasphemy

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer spoke to media after meeting with Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a jail in in November 2010.

Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear a final appeal in the country's most notorious blasphemy case amid a heavy police presence on October 13.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been on death row since 2010, will seek to have her death sentence overturned, in a case with major repercussions for minorities in Muslim Pakistan.

Dozens of police, many in riot gear, were deployed outside the court in Islamabad.

Blasphemy is an explosive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Anyone even accused of insulting Islam risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Rights groups say blasphemy laws are often abused to carry out personal vendettas, mainly against minority Christians.

Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hang after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute.

But successive appeals have been rejected, and if the Supreme Court upholds Bibi's conviction, her only recourse will be an appeal to the president for clemency.

She would become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy.

Observers have warned of possible violence if the conviction is overturned.

Based on reporting by AFP and the Guardian