Aasia Bibi leaves Pakistan, reaches Canada: lawyer

Cheryl Sanders
May 8, 2019

The apex court overturned her conviction previous year, sparking days of violent demonstrations led by hardline Islamist parties.

Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy past year after Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned her 2009 conviction.

Christian mother Asia Bibi was initially sentenced to death in Pakistan.

Her case swiftly became the most infamous in Pakistan, drawing worldwide attention to the issue as it carries a maximum death penalty under the country's penal code.

A number of countries were involved in efforts to find Bibi and her family a safe haven, but Canada quickly emerged as the most likely destination.

The groups calling for her to be put to death have been showing increasing muscle in the past years, setting off days of violent mayhem after her first acquittal, forcing the government to agree not to allow her to leave the country until the appeals process had been exhuasted.

"Bibi has been reunited with her family in Canada, " Shamoon Gill, a Christian activist from All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said.

Radical Muslims in Pakistan were outraged by the decision and threatened to murder her. Tens of thousands rallied in the streets and called for her death.

Bibi's case gained prominence when the former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 for supporting her and criticising the blasphemy laws.

Mere allegations of insulting Islam have sparked lynchings in the past.

"She was a free citizen".

Her freedom came after seven months of legal limbo in which she has been held in protective custody despite being acquitted of her crime. While no one has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, those accused risk being murdered by lynch mobs.

Two politicians have been assassinated in connection with Bibi's case, and she spent much of her time in prison in solitary confinement because of fears she could be attacked by a guard or another prisoner.

Since then, however, a number of the leaders of these groups have been arrested and their protests have dwindled.

According to the BBC, Christians make up only 1.6% of the population.

Earlier, Italy had said it would help Bibi leave the country because her life was in danger following charges of blasphemy that put her on death row for eight years.

Other reports by iNewsToday