Asia Bibi – a Pakistani Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy – is heading to Canada.
Her previous acquittal was upheld by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Asia Bibi’s daughters are already in Canada after being granted asylum.
As noted by the Associated Press, “Pakistan’s blasphemy law is often used to settle scores or intimidate followers of minority religions, including Shiite Muslims. A charge of insulting Islam can bring the death penalty, and the mere accusation of blasphemy is sometimes enough to whip up vengeful mobs, even if courts acquit defendants. A provincial governor who defended Bibi was shot and killed, as was a government minority minister who dared question the blasphemy law.”
According to Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook, Bibi said “I am really grateful to everybody. Now after nine years it is confirmed that I am free and I will be going to hug my daughters.”
The Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, “Asif Saeed Khan Khosa led the panel that dismissed the petition asking the court to review its Oct. 31 acquittal of Bibi and to send her back to prison and eventual execution. He said in court that Bibi’s accusers were guilty of perjury and if the case had not been so sensitive, they should have been jailed for life. “The image of Islam we are showing to the world gives me much grief and sorrow,” Khosa said.”
The case was a showdown between mainstream Muslims and radical Islamists. Islamists had repeatedly pushed for Bibi to be killed, while moderates in the country pushed back.
This is good news for the future of Pakistan, as it shows that there are people there committed to the rule of law, even at the severe risk to themselves from Islamist violence.
And it’s great news for Asia Bibi, who was persecuted for being a Christian and has now been granted her well-deserved freedom.
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