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Hunt for Asia Bibi, nothing but bigotry

Hunt for Asia Bibi, nothing but bigotry
Highlights

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman pushed into jail and confined for eight years on a death row on false charges of blasphemy by a group of Muslim women and the clerics of Pakistan

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman pushed into jail and confined for eight years on a death row on false charges of blasphemy by a group of Muslim women and the clerics of Pakistan, has left the country, Pakistani officials have confirmed.

She is said to have arrived in Canada where two of her daughters have already been granted asylum.

Asia Bibi was originally convicted in 2010 after some women working alongside her in a field complained that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad in a petty dispute with her neighbours.

The entire Pakistan got polarised on the issue. Her issue drew international attention to the blasphemy laws on the one hand and the intolerance of Pakistani society on the other.

However, the Supreme Court overturned the judgment and released her last year. Her release led to violent clashes by religious hardliners who insist on harshest punishments for blasphemy.

However, Asia Bibi drew solace from the liberal sections of the Pak society which solidly supported her and stood by her side under the galvanising situation.

Her case got linked to the assassination of a Provincial Governor and a Cabinet Minister and also became a rallying point for Christians and human rights activists.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) a hard-line Islamist group protested for three days holding the country to ransom after the October verdict last year forcing the government to strike an agreement to the effect that the case would be reopened.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal. Although Bibi was freed from the prison, she was kept in legal limbo in protective custody while negotiations were underway to find her and her family a new shelter.

Her family was literally hunted down by the extremists who tried to trace them with their photographs on display. Several countries got involved in rescuing her, but Canada managed to take the lead quickly.

It first relocated two of her daughters on its soil even while Bibi was incarcerating in custody. But, the story does not end here for Asia Bibi and her family members as Islamist terrorists and extremists might continue to hunt them down.

Living life on a daily basis will become a norm for them and they would be always looking back over their shoulders. It is not going to be an easy life for them for a long time to come.

Pakistani extremists have openly given death threats to them and the government, for sure, will not act against them, being an abettor and conniver in all such cases.

Only a few liberal voices will be heard speaking in favour of Asia Bibi or the likes, including the Hindus who face misery for choosing to stay back in the country after partition.

On his part, Imran Khan is a coward, who is supporting the murderers and mob violence.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistani are not respecting Prophet but insulting him and are used only to persecute people.

What was key to the release of Bibi was the flimsy evidence and her confession delivered in front of a crowd threatening to kill her.

Hence, it is not even about blasphemy laws, but all about religious bigotry.

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