Asia Bibi leaves Pakistan


LAHORE -- Asia Bibi, the Christian woman at the centre of a decade-long blasphemy row, has left Pakistan, a senior government source told AFP Wednesday (May 8), months after her death sentence was overturned to mass protests by Islamist hard-liners.

Her departure is the latest chapter in a saga that has sparked violent demonstrations and high-profile assassinations while spotlighting religious extremism across wide sections of Pakistani society.

"Asia Bibi has left Pakistan of her own free will," the government source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not clear when Bibi may have left or where she may have gone, though British Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to confirm that Canada was her destination while speaking on the floor of the House of Commons Wednesday.

Mere allegations of insulting Islam have sparked lynchings and vigilante violence in the past.

Bibi -- a labourer from Punjab Province -- was first convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and was on death row until her acquittal last year. Extremists assassinated two politicians who supported her.

Since then, Bibi has been widely believed to have been held in protective custody by authorities as she awaited an asylum deal in a third country.

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Qadianis are non-believers, there supporters are non-believers too. Blasphemer has the only fate, beheading, beheading. Long live Islam Long live Pakistan.