>> SOUND]>> It's a landmark case in Pakistan that sparked angry protests and death threats from ultra Islamist groups and cheers from human rights advocates. Pakistan's Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam. The court freed Asia Bibi, a mother of four, on Wednesday.
explains it's a polarizing issue in modern Pakistan.>> This is a landmark case for Pakistan in many ways. Legally, it's rare for a blasphemy conviction to be overturned. And culturally, it goes to the heart of which way Pakistan is heading as a country. Many from the more liberal side of Pakistan who want it to become a more tolerant society oppose the blasphemy laws.
And say they have become abused, and are way for the majority Muslim population and the hardline Islamists to persecute the minorities.>> Bibi had been living on death row since 2010 when she became the first woman to be sentenced to death under the country's blasphemy laws. She was convicted after allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam to her neighbor.
Supporters of the Islamist TLP party immediately condemned Bibi's acquittal, blocking roads in several major cities. In 2010, the case outraged Christians worldwide, leading to protests as far away as Rome. Since then, tensions have been so high at home, that two Pakistani politicians who supported Bibi's release have been assassinated.
Dozens around the country have also been murdered by mobs enraged by rumors of blasphemy.>> More recently, a Pakistani student, Mashal Khan, was lynched by a mob of other students after he was accused of blasphemy. The government said the allegations against Mashal Khan were simply false, and he never made those comments, but he was killed nonetheless.
>> Human rights advocates say the country's laws against insulting Islam's prophet are regularly exploited to settle personal scores.