LAHORE (Diya TV) — A Pakistani court in Punjab province has sentenced a 40-year-old woman, Asia Bibi, to life imprisonment for burning pages of Islam’s holy book, a court official revealed on Friday.

Asia Bibi, a Muslim resident of Lahore’s Bedian Road area, was arrested in 2021 based on a complaint by a local man, alleging she burnt a copy of the Quran outside her residence. The Lahore sessions court delivered the verdict on Thursday, imposing life imprisonment on Asia Bibi under the country’s strict blasphemy laws.

Advocate Sarmad Ali, representing Asia Bibi, highlighted significant flaws in the case, asserting her innocence and suggesting she was falsely implicated due to a personal vendetta. He pointed out contradictions in the prosecution’s witnesses’ statements and questioned the substitution of the principal complainant with a police officer who wasn’t a direct witness.

However, Prosecutor Mohazib Awais maintained that Asia was caught red-handed burning the Quran, which was recovered from the scene. Sessions court judge Imran Sheikh, affirming the prosecution’s case, pronounced the verdict, stating that it was established beyond doubt

Asia Bibi’s legal counsel expressed intentions to challenge the verdict in the Lahore High Court, hopeful for relief from the higher judiciary.

This sentencing adds to the controversy surrounding blasphemy laws in Pakistan, which have often been criticized for being misused to target religious minorities and settle personal disputes.

Meanwhile, concerns over freedom of speech and religious expression persist as Pakistan witnesses another instance of stringent enforcement of blasphemy laws.

Earlier in March, another court in Gujranwala, Punjab province, sentenced a 22-year-old student to death and handed a teenager a life sentence in separate cases for insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Such verdicts continue to stir debate domestically and internationally regarding the rights and protections of religious minorities and individuals’ freedom of expression.