Asia Bibi's daughters get refuge in Canada ahead of blasphemy case hearing

Islamabad, Pakistan Updated: Jan 26, 2019, 07:19 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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The mother-of-five, Asia Bibi, was acquitted last October after spending eight years on death row for blasphemy.

The daughters of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges, have been taken to Canada for safety reasons ahead of a court hearing next week that could see their mother finally freed.

The mother-of-five was acquitted last October after spending eight years on death row for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi is expected to join her daughters in Canada if Pakistan's Supreme Court upholds its decision to quash her conviction for defaming the Prophet Mohammed during a row with fellow workers, the Telegraph reported.

Two daughters of the 54-year-old Catholic farmhand last month flew to Canada with their guardian and diplomatic sources told the Telegraph and the country is a leading contender to take her if freed.

Pakistan's apex court quashed her 2010 conviction and death sentence in October, in a case that had drawn worldwide outcry from Church groups. But after days of protests by hardline Islamist clerics, Prime Minister Imran Khan agreed to allow a petition against the decision.

The petition will now be heard on January 29 by a panel including the country's top judge. The court is widely expected to uphold its original decision, which demolished her conviction and was scathing of the prosecution case.

Asia Bibi, her husband and family have decided they will be unable to live safely in Pakistan if she is freed, with religious parties and her own villagers still calling for her to hang.

Hardline Islamists had been knocking on doors in the neighbourhood where her husband and daughters live, raising fears that they could be killed before she has a chance to leave Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Asia Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook, who left for the Netherlands last year due to “security concerns”, has decided to return to Pakistan.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Malook said he would return to attend the January 29 Supreme Court hearing on the review petition against Asia’s acquittal of blasphemy charges.

He, however, requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure his security in Islamabad. 

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