Qatar World Cup 2022Portugal beats Uruguay 2-0, qualifies for round of 16

Asia Bibi to leave Pakistan

She is not safe in the country, says brother James Masih

November 01, 2018 10:21 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 10:23 am IST - Islamabad

Pakistan Christians pray for Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy in Multan, Pakistan on Wednesday.

Pakistan Christians pray for Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy in Multan, Pakistan on Wednesday.

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges on Wednesday, plans to leave the country, her family said on Thursday, as radical Islamists mounted rallies for a second day against the verdict, blocking roads and burning tyres in protest.

The developments followed a landmark move by Pakistan’s Supreme Court that overturned the 2010 conviction against her.

 

Fear of violence

The acquittal immediately raised fears of religious violence and presented a challenge to the government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who warned Islamist protesters on Wednesday night not to “test the patience of the state”.

Ms. Bibi remained at an undisclosed location on Thursday where she was being held for security reasons, awaiting her formal release, said her brother, James Masih. He said his sister simply would not be safe in Pakistan. “She has no other option and she will leave the country soon,” he said. He would not disclose the country of Ms. Bibi’s destination but both France and Spain have offered her asylum. Ms. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, had returned from Britain with their children in mid-October and was waiting for her to join them, the brother added.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Islamists blocked a key road linking the capital, Islamabad, with the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Thursday, demanding that Ms. Bibi be publicly hanged. Authorities deployed paramilitary troops, signalling that they could move in to clear the roads.

Meanwhile, Opposition lawmakers in Parliament called on Thursday for reforming the judicial system and amending Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law so that innocents like Ms. Bibi wouldn’t spent years languishing in jail.

Ms. Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, has gone into hiding as the extremists had threatened his life as well.

The acquittal has been seen as a hopeful sign by Christians in Pakistan, where the mere rumour of blasphemy can spark lynchings. Religious minorities, who have been repeatedly targeted by extremists, fear the law because it is often used to settle scores and to pressure minorities.

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.