02/26/2020, 11.28
PAKISTAN
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Asia Bibi seeks political asylum in France

The Christian woman is in Paris where she asked to meet President Macron. Since release in 2019, she has been hosted in Canada. She claims to love Pakistan, but will be "in exile forever". The mayor of Paris gives her honorary citizenship.

Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy for which she had been sentenced to death after nine years in prison, is seeking political asylum in France. She revealed it in an interview on RTL radio on February 24.

The woman is in Paris, on her first trip outside Canada, who welcomed her after the liberation and escape from Pakistan last year. Yesterday she received honorary citizenship from the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, which she had been awarded in 2014 when she was in prison.

According to the French press, Asia is expected to meet with President Emmanuel Macron on Friday 28 February. During the interview, the exile said that an official meeting with the head of the Elysée has not yet been scheduled. Then she added: "Obviously I would like the president to listen to my request." And finally she revealed: "My greatest desire is to live in France".

The woman, who became a symbol of religious persecution against Christians, remained involved in the most delicate trial for insulting the prophet Muhammad ever conducted in Pakistan. After a lengthy trial, she was found not guilty in January 2019.

During this time Asia led a private life away from the cameras. She gave only one interview to the Sunday Telegraph, in which she launched an appeal to justice for Pakistani convicts who spend years in prison awaiting a sentence, due to the trials blocked for pressure by Islamic radicals. Speaking in Paris, she said she was "enormously grateful to Canada", the nation that offered her and her family protection in a secret location, waiting for a third country to declare its willingness to grant her refugee status.

Last month Asia reappeared in a photo with the French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who fought for her release by conducting a tenacious campaign, and who wrote the autobiography "Enfin Libre!" with her. ("Finally free!").

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