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Christian Woman Acquitted of Blasphemy Leaves Pakistan

Asia Bibi case sparked riots
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2019 12:05 AM CDT
Supporters of Pakistani religious parties coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Alliance rally against the acquittal of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.c   (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
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(Newser) – A Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row in Pakistan has left for Canada to be reunited with her daughters, Pakistani officials and others involved in the case said Wednesday. Asia Bibi, also known as Aasia Bibi, was convicted of blasphemy in 2009 after a quarrel with a fellow farmworker. The Supreme Court overturned her conviction last year, and she had been in protective custody since then. Islamic extremists have rioted over the case and threatened to kill her. The same radical Islamists, many of whom have been jailed for their threats, also urged the overthrow of the government following Bibi's acquittal.

Wilson Chawdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association tells the AP that he received a text message from a British diplomat saying "Aasia is out." A close friend of Bibi also confirmed that she had left the country, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Her lawyer, Saif-ul Malook, said she had already arrived in Canada. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has 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. The case has brought international attention to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death penalty. (Read more Asia Bibi stories.)

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