ISLAMABAD—A Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row over false blasphemy charges, Asia Bibi, has left the country, her lawyer and media said on Wednesday, May 8, more than six months after she was acquitted by Pakistan’s top court.
“I have inquired within available channels, and according to them, she has left for Canada,” Bibi’s lawyer, Saif Ul Malook told Reuters.
“It is a big day,” Saif Ul Malook, said, according to The Guardian. “Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family. Justice has been dispensed.”
Pakistani TV channels Geo and ARY, citing unidentified sources, also reported Bibi had left the country.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
Bibi, 48, and mother of four, was arrested in June 2009 and convicted of blasphemy in 2010, after neighbors said she made derogatory remarks about Islam when they objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. She is a Protestant and denies committing blasphemy.
Her case has outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who sought to help her were assassinated. Then-Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer, who spoke in her defense, was assassinated by his own bodyguard in 2011. Federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed after calling for her release.
Bibi spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before being released in October 2018.
Her release sparked rioting by hardline Islamists, who rejected the Supreme Court’s verdict and warned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government that she must not be allowed to leave the country. They also called for Bibi to be killed.
She was in protective custody—staying at an undisclosed location under tight security—because her life was in danger. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, had appealed for help to Britain, Canada, Italy, and the United States. Two of Bibi’s daughters are understood to have been granted asylum in Canada.
In November 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was in talks with Pakistan about helping Bibi.
Insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world. No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes kill people accused of blasphemy. Rights groups say the blasphemy law is exploited by hardliners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.
Christians make up about 2 percent of the country’s population.
By Saad Sayeed. Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan.
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report