On November 7, 2018, after being imprisoned for nine years (June 2009), accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death, Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, 47, was freed and transferred to a secret location, reported “Vatican News” on November 8, stressing the uncertainties of her future.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of all the charges against her on October 31. However, violence broke out in the country, spearheaded by fundamentalist groups that threatened to kill the magistrates and called for Bibi’s hanging. On November 2, the Pakistani government signed an agreement with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, authorizing the appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision, and forbidding Asia Bibi from leaving the country before a review of her sentence.
“She was released,” announced her lawyer Saif ul-Mulook, who had to leave the country as he was threatened. “I’ve been told that she is on a plane but no one knows where she will land,” he said. However, the spokesman of the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Faisal, said she was still in Pakistan.
Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, asked the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Italy asylum for his family.
At the signing of the agreement, the Islamics announced the end of the national protest, which paralyzed the country, but threatened to renew the protest if the agreement was not respected. “One waits, henceforth, for developments in the affair,” concluded “Vatican News.”
On February 24, 2018, occasion of the Day of Global Protest Against the Persecution of Christians, organized by Aid to the Church in Need, Pope Francis received Asia Bibi’s husband and Eisham Ashiq, one of her daughters, for some 40 minutes in private in the Vatican. He hailed Asia as a “woman martyr . . . an example for a civilization that is afraid of suffering.” Two years earlier, Ashiq Masih attended the Argentine Pope’s General Audience on April 15, 2015.