Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that his government was holding talks with Pakistan over potentially offering asylum to Asia Bibi, a Christian woman recently freed from prison after her blasphemy conviction was overturned.
“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.
Bibi has been blocked from leaving Pakistan after the overturning of her conviction prompted a wave of protests among Islamist hard-liners.
She has since been flown to a “safe place” in the country as several governments have offered to grant her family asylum.
Her husband has appealed in particular to Britain, Canada and the United States, claiming that Bibi’s life would be in danger as long as she lived in Pakistan.
Bibi’s conviction stemmed from a 2009 incident when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields.
Muslim labourers objected to her touching the water bowl as a non-Muslim. A fight reportedly erupted, and a local imam then claimed Bibi insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
Bibi has consistently denied the charges and her prosecution rallied international rights groups, politicians and religious figures.