Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges by the country’s supreme court has confirmed that she had been offered asylum by French authorities after a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron. Aasia had been sentenced to death by a lower court before her acquittal in review petition to the Supreme Court last year. Bibi left for Canada immediately after her release in May 2019 and has been living there with her family since then.
“I have received the invitation from the president and the French Republic, and I’m honored,” Bibi said talking to media after meeting Macron on Friday. Talking to the reporters outside Elysee Palace, she said she needed time to make a decision and that she at the moment is taking care of her health and family. An Elysee official informed Reuters that “France is ready to welcome her if that is her wish, in accordance with procedures for a request for asylum”.
Under current French rules, you have to made a request to an independent state agency in order to seek asylum in the country. It is not clear if Bibi had submitted a formal request to the officials who will decide whether to grant her asylum or not.
Aasia, a farmworker and mother of four was convicted in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors working with her in the fields objected to her drinking water from their glass on the account of her being Christian. The woman from the minority Christian community spent eight years on death row before her acquittal by the country’s Supreme judiciary in Oct 2018.
The court overturning her conviction in its verdict noted that there were glaring and stark contradictions in the case against Bibi. But the decision resulted in countrywide spreads by the religious hardliners and far-right parties including TLP who demanded her hanging defined by the constitution of the land adding that the government should close the door for her exit.
Death penalty in general and Blasphemy laws in particularly have been criticized by the right organizations and leftists in and outside the country. The Blasphemy laws in Pakistan are strict and a convict could get death sentence for the crime.