Pakistan blasphemy case: Italy says will help Asia Bibi leave her country

Italy says will help Pakistani woman in blasphemy case leave her country Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Rome, Italy Nov 08, 2018, 06.10 PM (IST)

Italy said on Tuesday it will help a Pakistani Christian woman leave her country because her life is in danger following charges of blasphemy against Islam that put her on death row for eight years.

Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi last month but the decision sparked mass protests and her husband, Ashiq Masih, says they could be killed by Islamists. Authorities have indicated they will bar Bibi from travelling abroad.

In February 2018, Masih and his daughter attended a ceremony in Italy to show solidarity with persecuted Christians where Rome's ancient Colosseum was lit in red.

Asia Bibi's case has galvanized Christian and human rights groups outraged by the country's treatment of religious minorities including its tiny Christian population.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini told a radio station that Italy is working discreetly on the case with other Western countries.

Marta Petrosillo, a spokesperson for the international Catholic agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) said her organisation had spoken to someone close to the family earlier in the morning.

Petrosillo said Asia Bibi was in the same security complex as her family but still separated from them.

"So far as we know she was able only to speak with her husband and she didn't meet her daughters yet but they are finally all together and they are waiting to go out of Pakistan but this morning they were still in Pakistan," she said.

Bibi's case has prompted groups such as ACN, which has close ties to the Vatican, to demand protection for Christians in countries where they are a minority.

Story highlights

Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi last month but the decision sparked mass protests and her husband, Ashiq Masih, says they could be killed by Islamists. Authorities have indicated they will bar Bibi from travelling abroad.