|Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy, has been freed from jail and is believed to have flown out of the city of Multan, where she was being held, to an unknown destination. AFP|
|Pakistani police stand guard at the gates of the central jail where Bibi was held in Multan on Nov. 7. Pakistan's highest court ordered her release last week after overturning her conviction, triggering protests by hardline Islamists in a case that underscored divisions between traditionalists and modernizers in the devoutly Muslim nation. AFP|
By Jung Min-ho
A Pakistani Christian woman has been freed from prison after spending eight years on death row for "blasphemy."
This came after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction last week against Asia Bibi, 53, a mother of five, who was found guilty of the crime in 2010 over allegations she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbors. She always denied the charge.
Bibi is now at an undisclosed location for fear of attacks.
The ruling immediately prompted protests from thousands of hardline Islamists who called for her to be hanged.
Pressured by them, the Pakistani government said it would bar her from leaving the country.
Under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, offenders can face a death sentence. They have been used disproportionately against minority religious groups in the Muslim-dominant country (95 percent) despite international human rights groups' criticism.
Critics say the laws have often been used to exact revenge after personal rows or to go after journalists critical of the religious establishment.
Bibi's case attracted widespread outrage and support from Christians worldwide. Several countries have reportedly offered her asylum.