Woman acquitted of blasphemy still can't leave Pakistan:The Asahi Shimbun

Elias Hubbard
February 11, 2019

"She has no indication of when she will leave", Ullah, who spoke to Bibi via telephone on Friday, said.

Ullah fled the country Friday after receiving threats from religious radicals angered by his assistance to Bibi, which began while she was on death row.

A close friend of Bibi and rights campaigner Aman Ullah has claimed, as quoted by The Guardian, that Pakistani authorities had moved Asia Bibi to a new "secure area" and are banning her from leaving the country. The Supreme Court on October 31 a year ago, however, acquitted Bibi and last month the high court rejected an appeal by a radical religious party to review her acquittal.

In late October, the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted Bibi, a mother of five who was sentenced to capital punishment in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with Muslim neighbours and has been in custody since them. That court decision should have given Bibi her freedom, but Ullah said diplomats were told that her departure from Pakistan, where she feels her life would be in danger, would come not in the "short term but in the medium term", Ullah said.

The farm worker and her husband are locked inside a room in a house, and the door only opens "at food times", Ullah said, adding that she is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and at night, which she usually spends talking to her daughters. The insults were reportedly made after the Muslim women said that her faith made a cup she had used "unclean". She also told the activist that her security detail did not explain why she was still confined.

A member of Pakistan's government told AP "all possible measures" were being taken to ensure Asia Bibi's safety but she is a "free citizen" and able to travel at will.

Bibi's case has brought worldwide attention to Pakistan's blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death sentence for a conviction of insulting Islam.

Violent Islamists have threatened to track her down and kill her, some even suggesting that they will pursue her overseas if she leaves.

Since then the party's leadership has been arrested along with dozens of their supporters for inciting violence.

Canada has offered her asylum and she wants to join her daughters there.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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