Pakistan frees ‘blasphemer’
A Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy has been freed from jail after an acquittal that triggered Islamist protests, but is still in Pakistan, officials said Thursday amid appeals for her to be offered asylum.
Asia Bibi’s conviction was overturned by the country’s highest court last Wednesday, but she remained in prison as the government negotiated with hardliners who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.
Islamist parties had vowed to take to the streets of Karachi later on Thursday to protest at her acquittal, and numbers were now expected to swell sharply following news of her release.
“She has been freed,” lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said. “I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land.”
Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih has appealed for Britain or the United States to grant the family asylum and several governments including those of Italy and France have offered help.
Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini tweeted: “I will do everything humanly possible to guarantee this young woman’s future.”
8 years on death row, and Christian woman is now free, but still not safe