Asia Bibi recounts her ordeal in Pakistan over ‘a glass of water’

Tuesday 03rd March 2020 13:42 EST

Paris: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row on blasphemy charges, spoke anout her new life in a strange country and her dream of returning home. While safe in Canada, which granted her a one-year stay after she was freed from jail, she has yet to taste true freedom. "Well, I haven't visited Canada yet. I have stayed at home, mostly... I don't go out much and basically it is because of the cold and the snow," the 48-year-old said in an interview.

Bibi was in France to promote her book "Enfin Libre!" (Finally Free!) co-written with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet. She does not speak either of Canada's official languages, English or French, and is largely illiterate.

She misses her sisters, brother, father and in-laws back home. Bibi said she was hopeful things would change to allow her and her family -- husband Ashiq, 58, and daughters Eisham, 20, and 21-year-old Eisha, who is disabled -- to return to Pakistan one day. "I really hope for it, just the way I kept hope when I was in jail that one day I was going to be free," said Bibi.

The allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when Muslim labourers working with her in the fields refused to share water because she was Christian. An argument broke out and a woman went to a local cleric to accuse Bibi of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, an incendiary charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

She was sentenced to death the following year, but then dramatically acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2018. In her book, Bibi recounted how she was kept chained in prison and jeered at by other detainees. An ardent Catholic, she insisted that she never committed blasphemy. "No way... I cannot even think of insulting any prophet. I didn't say anything. It was all about a glass of water."

In Canada, Bibi lives with her husband and daughters in a three-room apartment in an undisclosed location. She said she had not recently received any direct threats.

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