Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi has landed in Canada – Lawyer

The daughters of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi pose with an image of their mother while standing outside their residence in Sheikhupura located in Pakistan's Punjab Province November 13, 2010. (File/ Reuters)
Updated 08 May 2019

Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi has landed in Canada – Lawyer

  • Arrived in Ottawa at least 12 hours ago, reunited with children, lawyer says
  • The poor farmworker was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 but acquitted by the Supreme Court last year

ISLAMABAD: The lawyer for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian acquitted of capital blasphemy charges last year, said on Wednesday that she had left the country and landed in Canada at least 12 hours ago, ending a ten-year long saga that has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan.
Arab News could not independently verify the news of Bibi’s departure from Pakistan or her arrival in Canada from the Pakistani government or the foreign office. The office of the prime minister’s adviser on information, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said she was not immediately available for comment but would revert. The Canadian government has also not commented on the development yet but in November last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said his country was in talks with Pakistan about helping Bibi leave the country.
“She has reached Canada 12 hours ago, she is already there,” Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Mulook told Arab News. “Her children are in Ottawa and she has been reunited with them.”
A source at the foreign office said on condition of anonymity that Bibi was a “free person” and had left Pakistan of her “independent will.”
The poor farmworker and mother of three was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 over allegations she had spoken against the Prophet Muhammad during a heated argument with Muslim women in 2009. The death sentence verdict drew worldwide condemnation and focused attention on Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which critics say has been used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal scores.
Last October, the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi in an exceptionally rare ruling against a blasphemy verdict. She has since lived at a safe house in Pakistan, despite offers of asylum from countries including Canada.
Bibi’s acquittal after spending over eight years on death row sparked country-wide angry protests and death threats from hard-line Islamist groups and cheers from human rights advocates last year. The government has since arrested major leaders of the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) religious political party that led the protests.
Despite the protests, this January, the Supreme Court upheld Bibi’s acquittal, dismissing a petition filed by Islamists who have called for her execution.
“It is a great relief that this shameful ordeal has finally come to an end and Asia Bibi and her family are safe,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director, Amnesty International. “She should never have been imprisoned in the first place, let alone endured the constant threats to her life.”
At least 65 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to Reuters, including a 23-year-old student beaten to death on his university campus in 2017.


Lukashenko: I need to contact Putin, protests not just threat to Belarus

Updated 15 August 2020

Lukashenko: I need to contact Putin, protests not just threat to Belarus

  • Mass unrest followed Lukashenko’s re-election victory last week

MINSK: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Saturday he wanted to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning street protests were not just a threat to Belarus.
Mass unrest followed Lukashenko’s re-election victory last week, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets accusing him of rigging the vote. “There is a need to contact Putin so that I can talk to him now, because it is not a threat to just Belarus anymore,” he said, according to state news agency Belta.
“Defending Belarus today is no less than defending our entire space, the union state, and an example to others ... Those who roam the streets, most of them do not understand this.”