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Rome Reports

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Asia Bibi: Muslim risking his life for Christian is proof that coexistence in Pakistan is possible

Asia Bibi is free after having spent almost nine horrific years in a cell so small that she stretched out her arms and touched the walls. Additionally, her own jailer tried to kill her.

Spokesman, Amnesty International Italy
"The idea that a Muslim lawyer dealt with the fate of a Christian on death row is something very important. So is the fact that other Muslims who defended her paid with their lives, like one minister or the former governor of the Punjab state, where she was originally from. From this point of view, there is proof that religions can coexist."

Asia Bibi's lawyer is this man, who had to flee from Pakistan to the Netherlands, as soon as the court case was over, just to escape the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The court case ended three years ago, but Bibi asked for a final appeal, asking that she not be executed by hanging.

The decision has outraged the country's Islamic radicals. Amnesty International has raised its voice in favor of Asia Bibi and reiterates the need to repeal the anti-blasphemy law.

Speaker, Amnesty International Italy
"A law that punishes for blasphemy or offensive phrases against religion is not a bad law in itself. But, in this case, has been used scandalously. It is a law that has been used for many years to resolve private matters and personal vendettas. It is a law that has served to calm troublemakers who, would otherwise deal out justice in their own way. Yet, it is a law that favors this kind of injustice paid by religious minorities."

Asia Bibi is still hiding in a safe place in Pakistan. Now, her future is forcing to leave her country, because she is wanted dead.

Speaker, Amnesty International Italy
"Asia Bibi's fate is complicated. If her salvation depends on her being welcomed or granted asylum in another country, this is also considered a loss, because Asia Bibi has the right to live safe and secure in her own country."

Amnesty International says Pakistan's government has a duty to protect all citizens, regardless of their religion. They also say they cannot submit to extremists who have already ended the lives of politicians like Shahbaz Bhatti and Salmaan Taseer for defending Asia Bibi.