Canada Offers Asylum to Pakistani Christian Woman Asia Bibi

Canada Offers Asylum to Asia Bibi
Women Deliver [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
After eight years on death row, Asia Bibi is being blocked from leaving the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on November 11 that his country has offered asylum to Asia Bibi[/tweetit], a Pakistani Christian. The mother to five children was given the capital death sentence for blasphemy and incarcerated for the last eight years. Prime Minister Trudeau said his government had begun discussions with Islamabad on granting asylum to the Pakistani Christian recently freed from jail by the Supreme Court.

Canada Offers Asylum to Pakistani Christian Woman Asia Bibi[/tweetthis]

Asia Bibi, who also goes by the name of Asia Noreen, is in her 50s. She has been barred by the Pakistani Government to leave the country. Her acquittal has led to massive protests by Islamists in Pakistan. If media reports are true, Bibi’s husband has asked for asylum in Canada, United Kingdom, and in the United States. He claimed his family continues to be in extreme danger. Temporary asylum has been granted to Saiful Malook by The Netherlands, the lawyer who fought for Asia Bibi’s acquittal.

Trudeau’s asylum offer came after a number of nations offered asylum to Asia Bibi, her husband, and her children. The ruling also brings into focus one of the most regressive laws in the world which Pakistan continues to have, the blasphemy law. Asia Bibi’s acquittal has brought into focus the two sides of Pakistan which co-exist uneasily with one another. One side is a small and progressive minority which applauded the valor of the Supreme Court judges on social media, and the second is a dominant fundamentalist majority population which took to the streets and threatened they would shut down Pakistan if she is not hanged.

The incident behind the whole fracas began on June 14, 2009, when Asia Bibi had an altercation with two Muslim women, Mafia Bibi, and Asma Bibi, who also are sisters. The latter did not drink water from the same cup as Asia Bibi. The excuse? Such an action was not sanctioned in Islam. The sisters then approached the local cleric and alleged that the Christian woman had made derogatory comments against Prophet Muhammad. The police subsequently registered an FIR against Asia Bibi.

A trial court subsequently convicted Asia Bibi on blasphemy charges. She was given a death sentence, and the order was upheld by Lahore High Court in 2014. An appeal was then filed by her in the Supreme Court challenging the verdict. The Supreme Court consequently acquitted the Christian woman of all charges.


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