Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who woman found guilty of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death, has left Pakistan to start a new life in Canada.
Her two daughters, both in their late teens, arrived in Canada last December while Bibi and her husband, Ashiq Masih, remained in Pakistan while they awaited permission to leave.
The move, Bibi said, “is an answer to prayer,” adding that there are “many more Christians in Pakistan and other countries whose lives are also in danger. We need to keep praying for them.”
Her arrival in Canada brings to an end a case that dates back more than a decade when the young Catholic woman was accused by her Muslim neighbours of insulting Mohammad.
She maintained her innocence but was sentenced to death in 2010. After her arrest and subsequent death sentence, Bibi, whose real name is Aasiya Noreen, languished in prison for eight years until last autumn when Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her conviction.
Following the acquittal, she was set free but was continually sent death threats from radical Islamist hardliners. This forced her and her family into hiding and in December, her daughters slipped out of Pakistan and made their way to Canada.
In January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court cleared the way for Bibi and her husband to leave the country for good.
Nadeem Bhatti, a close family friend said, “She is very happy to be here, but very tired. She is very glad to be reunited with her daughters.”