Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi asks France for political asylum

A file photo depicting Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan, 31 October 2018. . EPA-EFE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

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Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman who spent years on death row after a 2010 conviction of blasphemy, said that she was seeking political asylum from the French government.

“My great desire is to live in France,” Bibi said in an interview with RTL radio, her first trip to France since fleeing with her family to Canada in 2018.

Her visit comes a few weeks after the publication of her book “Enfin Libre!” (Finally Free) in French last month, with an English version due in September.

“France is the country from where I received my new life… Anne-Isabelle is an angel for me,” she said, referring to the French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who waged a long campaign for her release and later co-wrote Bibi’s book.

Protests after top Pakistan court commutes Asia Bibi's death sentence
a file photo of supporters of Islamic political party Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam-F, protesting after the Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, and annulled her death sentence for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad in 2009, in Peshawar, Pakistan. EPA-EFE/BILAWAL ARBAB

On Tuesday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo gave an honorary citizenship certificate granted to Bibi by the city in 2014, when she was still behind bars.

In her book, Bibi recounts the nightmare conditions she was subjected to in prison until her release in 2018, amid an international outcry over her treatment.

The acquittal of Bibi sparked fierce rioting in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where Christians are often the target of persecution.

She later fled with her family to Canada, where she has been living in an undisclosed location under police protection.

“Obviously I am enormously grateful to Canada,” Bibi said, adding that she now wanted to work “hand in hand” with Tollet to urge Pakistan authorities to free others imprisoned over the country’s anti-blasphemy laws.

Read more via RTL News

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