Various reports Wednesday afternoon revealed that Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges last week, has left prison and is onboard a flight at press time.
Bibi’s acquittal had triggered protests attracting thousands demanding her death and the deaths of the Supreme Court justices who found her not guilty.
Saif-ul-Malook, Bibi’s attorney, left the country for the Netherlands this week after facing several death threats from radical Islamists, many tied to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party organizing protests. On Wednesday, the lawyer told Agence France-Presse that Pakistan had indeed freed Bibi.
“I have been told that she is on a plane but nobody knows where she will land,” he reportedly said.
Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BCPA), confirmed to Breitbart News that Bibi was released from the women’s jail in Multan, where she had been held following the acquittal, and is currently in “a safe place.”
The government of Italy announced on Wednesday that it would accept Bibi and her family and grant them asylum. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said in a statement on the matter he would do “everything humanly possible” to ensure Bibi left the country safely.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, tweeted late Wednesday that he expected to meet Bibi and her family personally upon her arrival to Europe “as soon as possible.”
#AsiaBibi has left the prison and has been transferred to a safe place! I thank the Pakistani authorities. I look forward meeting her and her family, in the European Parliament as soon as possible.
— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) November 7, 2018
Bibi was arrested in 2009 after two of her co-workers accused her of insulting Muhammad, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. Bibi has consistently denied the charges, stating that her colleagues attempted to start a fight with her because she drank water out of a cup they deemed to be for Muslims only and sullied it as a Christian. Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 and has remained on death row from the time of her sentencing until last week.
A week ago, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Bibi of all charges, stating that no evidence existed that she had defamed Muhammad. The justices instead accused Bibi’s co-workers and their attorneys of blasphemy for disrespecting both Islam and Christianity by lying, and in particular disrespecting Islam by not living in harmony with a Christian. The acquittal triggered riots, organized by the TLP, throughout the country, causing mass destruction of property and forcing schools and businesses to shut down.
On Friday, the Pakistani government announced that it had come to an agreement with the TLP to accept another appeal on Bibi’s case, despite the case already making it to the court of last resort. The government also agreed to begin proceedings to place Bibi on the national Exit Control List (ECL), banning her from leaving the country.
Bibi and her family have argued that staying in the country under the current circumstances amounts to a death sentence at the hands of a mob. While the Pakistani government has never executed anyone for violating blasphemy laws, mob lynchings of Christians deemed to be blasphemers are not uncommon, often facilitated by police inaction. Bibi’s family requested asylum throughout the Western world, arguing that they would not survive living in Pakistan given the publicity surrounding her case.