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Pakistani Islamist Party Calls For More Protests After Christian Woman's Blasphemy Acquittal

FILE: The Pakistan Supreme Court's decision in October to overturn Asia Bibi's blasphemy conviction ignited days of violent demonstrations.

A radical Islamist party has called for protests across the country after Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected a challenge to its decision to acquit a Christian woman at the center of a years-long dispute over blasphemy charges.

The leader of the Tehreek-e Labaik Pakistan party (TLP), Mohammad Shafiq Amini, on January 30 called for supporters to head back into the streets this weekend after police arrested hundreds of them a day earlier when the court decision was handed down.

Bibi spent more than eight years on death row for blasphemy, a hugely sensitive charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The Supreme Court's decision in October to overturn her conviction ignited days of violent demonstrations, with radical Islamists calling for her killing as well as mutiny within the powerful military and the assassination of the country's top judges.

The government has since launched a crackdown on the TLP, charging its leaders with sedition and terrorism.

She was originally convicted in 2010 after being accused of making derogatory remarks about Islam in a row with her neighbors.

Bibi has always maintained her innocence.

Bibi has said she will leave the country as soon as her legal battles are over. Her daughters have reportedly taken refuge in Canada.

Approximately 40 people are believed to be on death row or serving a life sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan, according to a 2018 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP and Reuters