Washington Post | Nov. 1, 2018
ISLAMABAD — A Christian woman acquitted in Pakistan after eight years on death row for blasphemy plans to leave the country, her family said Thursday as radical Islamists mounted rallies for a second day against the verdict, blocking roads and burning tires in protest.
The developments followed a landmark move by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday that overturned the 2010 conviction against Asia Bibi for insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The charge of blasphemy carries the death penalty in this majority Muslim nation.
Bibi’s acquittal immediately raised fears of religious violence — and presented a challenge to the government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan who came to power this summer partly by pursuing the Islamist agenda. Khan warned Islamist protesters on Wednesday night not to “test the patience of the state.”
Bibi remained at an undisclosed location Thursday where the 54-year-old mother of five was being held for security reasons, awaiting her formal release, her brother, James Masih told The Associated Press.
Masih said his sister simply would not be safe in Pakistan.
“She has no other option and she will leave the country soon,” he said. Masih would not disclose the country of her destination but both France and Spain have offered asylum.
Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, had returned from Britain with their children in mid-October and was waiting for her to join them, the brother added.