ROME: Italy has said that it is working to help relocate the family of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted eight years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy, amid warnings from her husband that the family’s life is in danger in Pakistan.
The Foreign Ministry said it was coordinating with other countries to ensure safety for Aasia Bibi and her family. In a statement, the ministry said it was ready to act on whatever the Italian government might decide — an indication that an offer of asylum might be in the offing.
Also Tuesday, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party called for Germany to grant Bibi refuge, after her husband Ashiq Masih appealed for help from the West to relocate the family.
Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting Holy Prophet (PBUH), but Pakistan’s top court acquitted her last week. Protests by hardline Islamists prompted the government to impose a travel ban on Bibi until her case is reviewed.
Bibi’s case has been closely followed in Italy for years, and Pope Francis met earlier this year with her family in a show of solidarity.
Even Italy’s hardline, anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini stressed that he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family are safe, either in Italy or some other country.
Salvini distinguished between Bibi and the tens of thousands of migrants who try to seek out a better life in Italy via smugglers’ boats from Libya.
Meanwhile, Canada has urged Pakistan to ensure the well-being of Aasia Bibi.
“It’s a very important issue, a central priority for our government,” Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said of Bibi’s case after meeting her European Union counterpart, Federica Mogherini, in Montreal.
“Canada calls on Pakistan to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety and security of Aasia Bibi and her family,” Freeland said. “Canada is prepared to do everything we can” and is “extremely engaged in this issue,” Freeland said.
Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Mulook, fled to the Netherlands earlier this week because of fears for the safety of his family.