Asia Bibi to leave Pakistan as protests increase
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 11/01/18, 12:26 pm
Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman acquitted of blasphemy this week in Pakistan, will leave the country soon, her family said, as hardline Islamists intensified protests over her release. The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday overturned her 2010 death sentence, saying prosecutors failed to prove she violated the country’s blasphemy law. Bibi’s brother, James Masih, said she is being held at an undisclosed location for security reasons. “She has no other option and she’ll leave the country soon,” he said. France and Spain have offered her asylum. Bibi’s lawyer, Saif ul Malook, has also gone into hiding.
On Thursday, more than 1,000 Islamists demanded authorities hang Bibi as they blocked a road linking the capital city of Islamabad to Rawalpindi. Local television stations reported that several groups of protesters also blocked close to 10 major roads in the cities of Karachi and Lahore. The unrest shut down several private schools in both cities and in Islamabad. Hard-line Islamic cleric Hafiz Saeed called on his followers to stage nationwide protests on Friday.
In a televised speech, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the Islamists to show restraint. “Let me make it very clear to you that the state will fulfill its responsibility,” he said.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.