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“Blasphemy law should be reviewed, with proper investigation mechanisms”, Asia Bibi told The Sunday Telegraph in her first interview since she left Pakistan. The Christian woman and her family are expected to move to Europe soon.
Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was accused of blasphemy, sentenced to death and finally released last May, has granted her first ever interview, to the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph.
“My whole life suffered, my children suffered and this had a huge impact on my life”, she says, speaking about her 9 years in prison.
Bibi recalls that “sometimes, I was so disappointed and losing courage I used to wonder whether I was coming out of jail or not, what would happen next, whether I would remain here all my life”.
The 54-year-old Christian mother of 5 denounces that “there are many other cases where the accused are lying in jail for years and their decision should also be done on merit. The world should listen to them”.
BIBI: “BLASPHEMY LAW SHOULD BE REVIEWED”
Bibi thanks the Supreme Court for acquitting her, but claims that “this blasphemy law should be reviewed and there should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law. We should not consider anyone sinful for this act without any proof”.
“I request the whole world to pay attention to this issue. The way any person is alleged of blasphemy without any proper investigation without any proper proof, that should be noticed”, she adds.
The US State Department estimates that there are 77 people still in prison in Pakistan, under blasphemy laws, most of them Muslims, with lawyers and rights groups saying “false accusations are made to settle scores, or silence rivals”.
EIGHT YEARS IN THE DEATH ROW
Bibi was first convicted of blasphemy after she quarrelled with two Muslim women while they picked berries for a landowner in rural Punjab in 2009. She was then convicted and sentenced to death.
After 8 years in the death row, on October, 31, 2018, the Supreme Court decided to overturn the death sentence and absolve her of all the charges.
However, she was kept in custody for a further seven months, amid fears of attacks by extremist groups. Asia and her husband Ashiq Masih were kept in government safe houses.
MOVE TO EUROPE IN THE COMING MONTHS
IN May 2019, Asia Bibi was finally released and brought to Canada, through mediation by the European’s Union special envoy on religious freedom, Jan Figel. Bibi’s daughters had earlier been granted asylum.
“My heart was broken when I left that way without meeting my family. Pakistan is my country, Pakistan is my homeland, I love my country, I love my soil”, she told The Sunday Telegraph.
The whole family is expected to move to an undisclosed European country in the coming months.
“Asia Bibi is an admirably brave woman and loving mother, who had refused to give up her Christian faith in exchange for immediate freedom”, Figel said.