Asia Bibi, the persecuted Christian woman who feared for her life in Pakistan and became a global symbol for religious freedom, has made it to safety in Canada, her lawyer told the German-language Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Friday.
The news, which the Washington Free Beacon could not independently confirm, would bring to an end a saga that included Bibi's lawyer fleeing Pakistan for fear of his life, a blasphemy conviction, a court intervention, and global government involvement.
A Pakistani court found that Bibi, a Christian and mother, had slandered the Prophet Muhammad in a 2009 exchange with Muslim coworkers. As a result, the court sentenced her to death in 2010. Last October, however, Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted Bibi, who at that point had been on death row for almost eight years.
The acquittal sparked days of protests, bringing Islamic extremists into Pakistan's streets and calls for Bibi's death. Bibi, though legally free, went into hiding for fear of her life. Several countries, including Germany, England, and Canada pressured the Pakistani government to hasten her exit, but she remained in Pakistani protective care. Saif ul Malook, Bibi's lawyer, fled the country for the Netherlands.
As of this week, however, Bibi may be safe. Ul Malook reports that she safely arrived in Canada earlier this week. He declined to add detail for security reasons. In a separate interview with Canada's "Global National" television program on Thursday, ul Malook praised the Supreme Court for its life-saving decision. "Had they not come forward, I don't know what could have been the fate of her case," he said.
Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti wondered shortly after Bibi's release why the international community was not acting more urgently to save her from the dire situation. Similarly, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom applauded the court's legal opinion, but demanded action to secure her physical safety.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the decision by Pakistan's Supreme Court to overturn the death sentence handed down in 2010 against Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five.
In anticipation of the likelihood of an outbreak of social unrest following this decision, USCIRF urges Pakistani authorities to ensure Asia Bibi's safety upon her release. And while USCIRF welcomes this decision, it again calls on the government of Pakistan to release the 40 individuals imprisoned on blasphemy charges and to repeal its blasphemy laws.
The Canadian and Pakistani governments had offered no comment on Bibi's location as of press time.