(SIR-ACN) “I cannot wait to be reunited with my mother. Our prayers have finally been heard!”. Her voice broken by tears, Eisham Ashiq, Asia Bibi’s youngest daughter, commented on the news of her mother’s acquittal by the Supreme Court, made public this morning at 9am in Pakistan, in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need and SIR news agency. “It is the most beautiful news we could receive – Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, stated – it has been very difficult for me to be separated from my wife all these years, knowing she was held in those dreadful conditions. Now our family will reunite at last, but unfortunately I doubt that we will be able to stay in Pakistan”. Since the hearing last 8 October, extremists have been holding events and campaigns on social media against the acquittal of “wicked” Asia, calling for her to be hanged and threatening with death the judges and anyone who would defend her.
“We are scared of what may happen. There are many extremists in this country”, Asia’s lawyer Saif ul-Malook told ACN and SIR. Malook was not allowed to personally inform his defendant. “That was a Supreme Court order, but I was given permission to call the prison in which Asia was detained and ask that she be informed”. As the lawyer explains, it will take a few more days before the woman is released. “The verdict must be delivered to Lahore High Court and then to Multan prison”. Meanwhile, there are fears for the safety of Asia’s relatives and anyone who has helped in her acquittal. “My family and I are in serious danger – Maloof continued – especially because I am a Muslim who defends a Christian who was accused of blasphemy”.
The Pakistani authorities have stepped up security throughout the country, especially in areas where Christians and other minorities live. There are fears of massacres such as those perpetrated in Gojra in 2009 and in Joseph Colony in 2013. “The situation is tense – the lawyer said – but today we thank God for this historic moment, for justice has finally been done for Asia Bibi, after 9 years and a half!”.