Asia Bibi released from jail after blasphemy death sentence reversed; sent to secure location amid fear of attack
Asia Bibi, 53, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 over allegations she made derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. She always denied having committed blasphemy.
Islamabad/Lahore: A Pakistani Christian woman has been freed from prison a week after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction and death sentence for blasphemy against Islam, and she is now at a secure location for fear of attacks on her, officials said on Thursday.
The release of Asia Bibi, a mother of five, prompted immediate anger from a hard-line Islamist party that has threatened to paralyse daily life countrywide with street protests if her acquittal is not reversed.
Bibi, 53, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 over allegations she made derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. She always denied having committed blasphemy.
The case has outraged Christians worldwide, and Pope Francis met with Bibi's family earlier this year, saying he prayed for her. Italy said on Tuesday it will try to help Bibi, who is Catholic, to leave Pakistan.
Insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world. Minority Christians make up about 2 percent of the population.
Three security officials told Reuters early on Thursday that Bibi had been released from a prison in Multan, a city in southern Punjab province.
She was flown to the airport near the capital, Islamabad, but was in protective custody because of threats to her life, said the three officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Bibi's lawyer, who has fled Pakistan and this week sought asylum in the Netherlands, confirmed she was no longer in prison.
"All I can tell you is that she has been released," lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook told Reuters by phone from the Netherlands.
A spokesman for the hard-line Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party, which took to the streets after the Supreme Court ruling, said her release violated a deal with the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to end the protests.
"The TLP activists are agitated as the government has breached the agreement with our party. The rulers have showed their dishonesty," party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters.
The government deal last week promised not to block a petition for the Supreme Court to review Bibi's acquittal in light of Islamic sharia law, the TLP said. It also said the government promised to work to ensure Bibi could not leave the country.
If Pakistan's government allows Bibi to leave, it could face more paralysing protests from the TLP and other Islamist parties.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; writing by Kay Johnson; editing by Hugh Lawson and Grant McCool)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
By Francesco Guarascio BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European drugs regulator could soon give the go ahead for an extra sixth dose to be extracted from Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine vials, an EU official told Reuters on Wednesday, lifting the number of available shots at a time when supplies are short. EU countries started inoculating people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine two weeks ago, after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the shot's conditional approval under an authorisation which allows five doses to be extracted from each vial
By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Vice President Mike Pence opened a joint session of Congress to formally certify Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory, rejecting President Donald Trump's demand that he unilaterally reject electoral votes. Trump's allies in Congress mounted a last-ditch bid to undo his election loss on the same day Trump's fellow Republicans were poised to lose their majority in the Senate, in a session that could last past midnight.
U.S. passes 21 million COVID-19 cases with record hospitalizations as states ramp up vaccination efforts
By Maria Caspani and Peter Szekely NEW YORK (Reuters) -More Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday than at any time since the pandemic began, as total coronavirus infections crossed the 21 million mark, deaths soared across much of the United States and a historic vaccination effort lagged.