Accessibility links

Breaking News

Acquitted Pakistani Christian Woman Seeks Move to Germany, Lawyer Says

Asia Bibi spent eight years on death row.
Asia Bibi spent eight years on death row.

Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan last month, wants to leave the country and travel to Germany, her lawyer says.

In comments published in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag on November 11, attorney Saiful Malook said Bibi "would be happy if she could leave for Germany with her family."

Germany was among several European countries that have said they were open to taking in Bibi and her family. The newspaper quoted the German Foreign Office as saying it is in consultations with Pakistani authorities but provided no further details.

Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, has appealed to the Italian government, which has also said it is in consultations with Islamabad on the matter.

Bibi, whose real name is Aasiya Noreen, had spent eight years on death row for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad before Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned her death sentence on October 31, triggering violent protests by many Islamists calling for her execution.

In a deal with the hard-line Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party that ended the protests, the Pakistani government on November 3 indicated that it will bar Bibi from traveling abroad pending a "review" of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Bibi, who denied the allegations, was freed from a prison in the city of Multan on November 7 and flown to an undisclosed location in Islamabad for fear of attacks on her.

Her attorney, Malook, has left Pakistan for the Netherlands amid safety fears.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumor of blasphemy can lead to lynchings by mobs.

Approximately 40 people are believed to be on death row or serving a life sentence in Pakistan for blasphemy, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

At least 1,472 people were charged under Pakistan's blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2016, according to the Lahore-based Center for Social Justice.

It said Muslims constituted a majority of those prosecuted, followed by members of the Ahmadi, Christian, and Hindu minorities.

Rights groups say the laws are increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

With reporting by dpa, Bild am Sonntag, AFP, and AP

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.