Who is Asia Bibi? Pakistani woman accused of blasphemy granted asylum in Canada – National


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The years-long plight of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman falsely charged with blasphemy, has reportedly ended with her arrival in Canada.

Pakistani officials and others involved in the case said Wednesday that Bibi left the country and would be reunited with her daughters in Canada, where the family was granted asylum.

In this Nov. 20, 2010, file photo, Asia Bibi listens to officials at a prison in Sheikhupura near Lahore. (The Canadian Press/AP, File)

Her lawyer, Saif-ul Malook, also said Wednesday that she had already arrived in Canada.

Here’s a look at her case and how she was ultimately given asylum.

Blasphemy charge and jail time

Bibi, a farm worker and a mother of four, was convicted in 2010 of making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours working in the fields with her objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

Bibi spent eight years on death row after the accusation of blasphemy.

WATCH: Lawyer for Asia Bibi speaks about her journey to freedom

The case has brought international attention to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death penalty. The mere suspicion of blasphemy against Islam is enough to ignite mob lynchings in the country.

The accusation of blasphemy has also been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle scores.

READ MORE: Pakistani woman Asia Bibi, acquitted of blasphemy, arrives in Canada

News of her release

Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her conviction last year, but the decision also prompted uproar.

Bibi’s release in October sparked rioting by hardline Islamists who rejected the Supreme Court’s verdict. They also called for Bibi, who has been staying at an undisclosed location under tight security, to be killed.

WATCH: Islamists protest as Supreme Court clears Christian woman of blasphemy

Rioters also warned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government that she must not be allowed to leave the country. Khan vowed not to be intimidated by the rioters, saying the rule of law would decide Bibi’s fate.

But she was denied permission to leave the country for several months until sentiments cooled.

People shout slogans as they protest the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, whose death sentence was annulled by the Supreme court, in Lahore, Pakistan, November 2018.

Rahat Dar/EPA

In January, a three-judge Supreme Court panel in January cleared Bibi’s final legal hurdle when they ruled there was no compelling reason to overturn the court’s earlier acquittal.

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.

The judges upheld the blasphemy law.

READ MORE: Canada says safety of Pakistan woman Asia Bibi top priority, won’t comment on asylum status

Asylum to Canada

In November, amid threats to her life, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada was in talks with Pakistan about helping Bibi.

Bibi’s family was already believed to be outside Pakistan. She was widely expected to seek asylum, and diplomats said she would have no problems.

WATCH: Canada urges safety of Pakistani woman acquitted of blasphemy

On Wednesday, Trudeau declined to comment on whether Bibi had arrived in Pakistan citing privacy issues.

Global Affairs Canada said Wednesday it “has no comment on this matter.”

— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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