Asia Bibi is now free to leave Pakistan and join her daughters in Canada after more than eight years of prison and detention. The Islamic country’s highest court has just upheld its acquittal of Bibi, clearing her of all charges of blasphemy.
Bibi spent eight years on death row, falsely accused of insulting Islam. Even though she was acquitted last October, her life has been in danger from radical Muslims, so she hadn’t been freed yet. She has been held under guard at a secret place since then.
It all started in 2009 when Bibi brought water to help some fellow workers, but they wouldn’t drink from the same container as her because she’s a Christian.
They ended up arguing and they accused her of insulting Islam and its founder, Muhammad.
Her attorney called Tuesday’s ruling a victory not only for Bibi but for Pakistan’s constitution and rule of law.
One justice went as far as to say Bibi’s accusers were guilty of perjury, and if the case had not been so sensitive, they should have been jailed for life.
A friend told the Associated Press anonymously, fearing for his own safety, that Bibi is overjoyed, quoting her: “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.”
Radical Muslims had demanded Bibi’s execution, and they had rioted in the streets after she was acquitted in October. Then they filed an appeal of that ruling, which is one reason why she remained in Pakistan since the court had to rule again on the case.
The rioters have also called for the judges to be killed and for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to be overthrown.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law is often used for vengeance when Muslims want to punish people who follow minority religions rather than Sunni Islam. Pakistani officials have been murdered in the past for standing against the misuse of the blasphemy law, and falsely accused minority Christians have also been killed by radical Muslims there.