After spending 8 years on death row, Asia Bibi was acquitted late last year and has now found a new place to begin her life again: Canada.
A brief recap:
The Asia Bibi blasphemy case involves Pakistani Christian woman Asia Noreen, who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for alleged insults on the Prophet during a heated argument with women who had refused to drink from a bucket of water Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. At the time, Bibi said the case was a matter of women who didn’t like her “taking revenge”and she denies till today, having said anything about the Prophet.
Five days after the quarrel, a local mosque broadcast allegations she had committed blasphemy and Bibi was dragged from her home by a mob and beaten in the presence of police officers before she was taken into custody.
One of Bibi’s highest-profile supporters, the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, was killed by one of his own security guards in January 2011 after he publicly appealed to the president of Pakistan to pardon Bibi.
Taseer was shot 27 times at close range by Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who was showered with rose petals by supporters when he appeared in court. He was executed in 2016.
Canada had offered Bibi asylum, but Bibi was being prevented from leaving by authorities shortly after she was acquitted and her family claimed she was in grave danger and was receiving threats.
“We have to look at the value of the statements by witnesses, how can we hang someone on a false witness statement.”
Post acquittal , the blasphemy law was still heavily scrutinised after she won her appeal against the conviction and death sentence which sparked protests throughout Pakistan leading to Bibi’s children seeking asylum and moving to Canada.
She has now finally moved and rejoined her family in Canada, her lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook has confirmed.
Despite Asia Bibi being freed, calls for overturning Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which rights groups say has essentially been used by extremists as a bludgeon against religious minorities is still being urged and is an on going dispute.