Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi is seen in an undated photo handed out by family members. -Reuters Photo

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI has urged the release of a Christian woman in Pakistan facing the death sentence on a charge of blasphemy.

Benedict told his weekly public audience Wednesday that Christians in Pakistan ''are often victims of violence and discrimination.''

He called for the release of Asia Bibi, who was recently sentenced to death accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

He expressed his ''spiritual closeness'' to her and said he is praying that the ''human dignity and fundamental rights of everyone in similar situations'' is fully respected.


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