One week after the death sentence was pronounced, Christin Asia Bibi has been released from prison in Pakistan. Bibi was imprisoned for alleged blasphemy for nine years. His client is "on a plane, but nobody knows where she will land," Asia Bibi's lawyer Saiful Malook told AFP.
Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned Bibi's death sentence last week for blasphemy. He freed the woman, whose case had attracted international attention, from all allegations. After the acquittal, there were days-long protests in the conservative-Muslim country. Radical Islamists took to the streets, after two days the government collapsed. On Friday, the government in Islamabad and the Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik agreed that the Islamists may appeal the court decision. The case went into revision, the acquitted Bibi was initially prohibited from leaving the country.
On Wednesday, a jail sentence was issued in prison in the city of Multan, where the Christian woman was being held, but a jail sentence was issued by an AFP prison representative. Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih had asked the US, UK and Canada to help his wife and family escape from Pakistan and give them asylum. He fears for the life of the whole family. Bibi's lawyer Saiful Malook had already fled to the Netherlands at the beginning of November.
Blasphemy is considered a capital crime in Islamic Pakistan. In practice, blasphemy is understood as contemptuous statements and acts against Islam, the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad. Around 40 people are currently serving life imprisonment or awaiting execution, according to a US Religious Freedom Committee's allegations. Again and again there are lynchings for allegations of blasphemy. Critics say the laws are abused, among other things, to discredit personal enemies.
Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 in Punjab province for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim women from their village had accused the mother of five children to have made offensive in a dispute about the religious founders, they themselves denies that. Human rights groups and also Pope Benedict XVI. had used for Bibi's release.