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Don't pardon Christian woman, Pakistan Muslim leaders demand

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Asia Bibi faces the death sentence for defaming the prophet Mohammed
  • President Asif Ali Zardari will pardon her if necessary, a confidante tells CNN
  • Muslim leaders threaten nationwide protests if he goes ahead

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threatened Wednesday to call for nationwide protests if the president pardons a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

"If the president pardons Asia Bibi, we will raise our voices across the country until he is forced to take his decision back," nationally known mufti Muneer Ur Rehman said.

Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a leading cleric in Lahore, said pardoning the woman would be "criminal negligence" and would cause inter-religious tension.

Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer told CNN Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon Bibi if the High Court did not grant her request for mercy.

Journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report.