After six months since her acquittal on October 31, 2018, the Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi is reportedly out of Pakistan and has arrived safely in Canada, where her family now lives. Her family had already been granted political asylum there.
An Open Doors spokesman expressed their joy at the news: “This is wonderful news. And we hope there will not be repercussions for the Christians in Pakistan but [that this] would, in fact, make a way for change, hope and reconciliation.”
Journey to Freedom
The wife and mother of five spent eight years on death row, convicted of blasphemy. When Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction last October, it was expected she would leave her home country. But the acquittal put into motion massive and violent protests by Muslim extremists calling for her death that left Christians in Pakistan fearing for their lives and livelihoods; and Asia Bibi in protective custody in an undisclosed secret location inside the country.
Last year, before and after the Supreme Court hearing, Islamic hardliners threatened the judges and organized wide-spread protests. They also filed a petition to appeal the court’s decision. With another hearing pending, Asia was not allowed to leave the country
In January 2019, the court upheld their decision to acquit—clearing the way for the 47-year-old Christian woman to leave the country. However, little has been reported about her whereabouts and any plans to leave.
Today, tens of millions of prayers around the world lifted up for more than a decade have been answered.
A Quarrel Over a Cup of Water
Asia was arrested in 2009 after being accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed after a quarrel with a female co-laborer over her touching a cup of water she gave to them. The following year, she was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.
Despite lack of evidence and contradictions in witness testimonies, the court cases and appeals dragged on. Finally in 2018, the Supreme Court acquitted her in the landmark decision.
Her case has focused global attention on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that Islamic fundamentalists inside the country fight to uphold. In many cases, Muslims use the laws to seize land or wage vendettas.
Praying With Asia Bibi and the Church in PakistanP
Pakistan’s Christians (3.9 million out of a national population of 200 million) have fervently prayed for a positive outcome.
“Aasiya Bibi is a much loved and prayed for woman” an Open Doors’ spokesman said in January.
- Pray for Asia’s continued protection and safety, her family and others around her as they seek to recover and heal from their long wait for freedom.
- Pray for Asia and her family as they begin to rebuild a new life together. Ask God to place people in their lives who will nurture them and get them the help they need.
- Pray that they will be strong witnesses for the gospel to the people they encounter.
- Pray for peace in Pakistan. Ask God to intervene against plans for any violent protests and attacks on Christians and churches.
- Pray that this landmark case will compel courts to review blasphemy cases with increasing discernment and courage to overturn arrests and convictions.
- Pray for Christians convicted of blasphemy awaiting trial and imprisoned in Pakistan and throughout the world.
- Pray for the 3.9 million Pakistani Christians who may live with a daily fear of being arrested and imprisoned.