Blasphemy-condemned Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has been released from prison.
She had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy in predominantly Muslim Pakistan. After the verdict was lifted, there had been protests from radical Islamic groups.
Bibi should now be "in an airplane", but nobody knows where to go.
One week after the death sentence was pronounced, Christin Asia Bibi has been released from prison in Pakistan. His client is "on a plane, but no one knows where she will end up," her lawyer Saif-ul-Malook told AFP news agency on Wednesday. Bibi was imprisoned for alleged blasphemy for nine years.
Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned Bibi's death sentence on Wednesday for blasphemy last week. He freed the woman, whose case had caused a stir internationally, from all charges. After the verdict came in the conservative Muslim country to days of protests by Islamists.
On Friday, the Islamabad government agreed with the Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik to allow the Islamists to appeal the court ruling. The acquitted Bibi was initially prohibited from leaving the country. On Wednesday, a jail sentence was issued at the detention center in the city of Multan, where the Christian was held, as a prison representative said.
Bibi's husband fears for the life of the entire family
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. Her lawyer Malook has already fled to the Netherlands.
Blasphemy is a serious accusation in strictly conservative Islamic Pakistan. 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.
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 insulting statements about the religious founders, she herself denies that. The death sentence caused international outrage. Human rights groups and also Pope Benedict XVI. had used for Bibi's release.
Pakistani government gives in to pressure from Islamists
At first, it looked as if the alleged blasphemy convicted Christian Asia Bibi could finally be released after eight years on death row. But she must not leave Pakistan for the time being.
By Arne Perras