Christian woman who was on death row for blasphemy leaves Pakistan

Christian woman who was on death row for blasphemy leaves Pakistan

Pakistani media say Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row, has left Pakistan for Canada to be reunited with her daughters.

The high court finally overturned the conviction in October 31 and then dismissed an appeal against the acquittal on January 29, issuing blistering statements saying she was convicted on the basis of false evidence.

Pakistani and Canadian officials have not officially commented on Bibi's reported departure, perhaps due to the sensitive nature of her case. The judges accused those who charged Bibi with blasphemy of committing perjury, but said they would not be tried because of the sensitivity of the case. "They landed in December a year ago so naturally she must have been joining them", he said. She has reunited with her family.

Islamic extremists have rioted over the case and threatened to kill her.

He hopes she will be left alone in Canada. The apex court overturned her conviction past year, sparking days of violent demonstrations led by hardline Islamist parties. Scores of Christians have been convicted of blasphemy since the 1990s. "Please don't follow her. Let her lead the rest of her life in peace". "She is a free person and travelled on her independent will", a source in the foreign office was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

She had been denied permission to leave the country for several months as the government waited for sentiments to cool. The Supreme Court's quashing of her sentence on October 31 previous year led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws, while more liberal sections of society urged her release.

Ashiq Mesih (R) and Eisham Ashiq, the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi, speak during an interview with AFP in London, on October 12, 2018.

In November Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa was holding talks with Pakistan about bringing her to Canada, which he said is "a welcoming country". "This case horrifyingly illustrates the dangers of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the urgent need to repeal them".

It is an incendiary issue in the Muslim-majority country, and mere allegations of insulting Islam have sparked lynchings and vigilante violence in the past.

In addition, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was the federal minister for minority affairs at the time, was shot dead by self-proclaimed Taliban gunmen in March 2011 after he called for the reform of blasphemy laws and declared his support for Bibi.

The British Pakistani Christian Association too said in a statement that they had "received confirmation from a British diplomat that Aasia Bibi had safely exited Pakistan".

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