Government - Conflicting Reports of Asia Bibi's Status
The Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan has been released from prison, but her status is unclear.
38-year old Asia Bibi had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, but the country's highest court last week overturned that and ordered her set free from prison where she had awaited a possible death sentence. That ruling angered hardline Muslims who began massive nationwide protests demanding that Ms. Bibi be turned over to them for a lynching.
After being freed from prison in Punjab province, officials took her under guard to an airport near the capital Islamabad, and that's where reports start to diverge. Some say the mother of five is being held in an undisclosed location for her own safety.
Others say she was put on a plane heading for the Netherlands. That would fit in with what happened to her lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook, who was forced to flee the country as the death threats started to pile up; he reportedly sought asylum in the Netherlands, possibly paving the way for her
There are great reasons to take the threats against Bibi seriously; In 2011, the then-governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer was shot and killed by one of his guards for defending Bibi and criticizing the misuse of the law. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged for the crime, but later was hailed by religious hard-liners as a martyr.