Woman freed in blasphemy case still in hiding in Pakistan

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Source: Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A week after Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her of blasphemy, a Christian woman who had been on death row for eight years was freed from detention Thursday, but her whereabouts are a closely guarded secret following demands by extremists that she be hanged in public.

The case of Aasia Bibi has become a political minefield for Prime Minister Imran Khan. He is trying to placate the Muslim extremists who have threatened to topple his government, while keeping the 54-year-old mother of five safe from a lynch mob and also finding a way to allow her to leave Pakistan without bringing rioters into the streets.

Bibi has been offered asylum by the European Parliament, which championed her case after she was convicted in 2010 under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy law. There has been sharp worldwide criticism of the law, which remains popular in the Muslim majority country and carries the death penalty for insulting Islam but also has been used as a way to settle scores and pressure minorities.

Bibi was with her family under heavy security after being transferred to the Pakistani capital overnight from her detention facility in southern Punjab, triggering expectations of an imminent departure from the country.

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