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Pakistani Christian Woman Seeks Political Asylum In France


A photo of Asia Bibi released in November 2018

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman who spent several years on death row after a 2010 conviction of blasphemy, has said she is seeking political asylum in France.

Bibi, 49, said in an interview with France's RTL radio on February 24 that her "great desire was to live in France."

On February 25, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will bestow an honorary citizenship certificate granted to Bibi by the French capital in 2014, when she was still behind bars in Pakistan.

Last month, Bibi released a memoir in which recounts the nightmare conditions she was subjected to in prison until her release in 2018, amid an international outcry over her case.

The book, Enfin Bible!, was released in French, with an English version due in September.

Bibi was sentenced to death by a court in the central province of Punjab in 2010 for allegedly committing blasphemy in a dispute with Muslim women while working on a farm.

Bibi was only able to depart Pakistan for Canada in May 2019 after being kept in protective custody out of security concerns.

Islamic extremists have threatened to kill her and also urged the overthrow of the government following Bibi's acquittal.

Bibi's case brought international attention to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death penalty.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was killed in 2011 for defending Bibi and criticizing the misuse of the blasphemy law.

Pakistan's minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated later that year after demanding justice for Bibi.

Based on reporting by AFP and RTL
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