Three months after her acquittal of a blasphemy charge, Asia Bibi is still living like a prisoner, hiding from angry mobs in Pakistan who want her dead.
A friend of Bibi who wasn’t identified told The Associated Press that the Christian mother of five — who was on death row for eight years — is living in fear of being killed and is guarded by security forces who've barred her from even opening a window.
Bibi was accused by Muslim farm laborers of having insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which is an offence punishable by death in Pakistan. She was convicted despite denying the charges, and in October the Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict.
The mother has been living in hiding ever since, with Islamic mobs demanding she be put back on death row and executed for her alleged crime.
Her children have been taken to Canada for their safety, though Bibi herself remains in hiding, awaiting a foreign nation to offer her asylum and secure her safety.
Bibi isn't allowed to give interviews for her own protection, and is with her husband, Ashiq Masih, who was shot and wounded by a protester demanding his wife’s death.
Bibi’s friend said that while her hiding place is comfortable, she still sees it as a jail, with her only hope being to be reunited with her family one day.
The mother is also receiving medication for various illnesses she suffered while in jail. “She is receiving medication for her heart, but she is still in pain,” the friend said.
While various western countries, including Canada, Italy, Australia, and others have been mentioned as possible destinations that could grant Bibi asylum, her fate remains uncertain.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was questioned on Wednesday during a session of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons about what the British government is doing to help Bibi.
May responded by saying that the well-being of Bibi and her family is of "primary concern," but refused to comment on whether the U.K. will offer the family asylum, explaining that engaging in speculation could compromise her "long-term safety."
In the U.S., former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee warned that America is "betraying" its principles by failing to offer asylum to Bibi.
“President [Donald] Trump and his administration have been stalwart and vocal champions for religious freedom across the globe. And in Asia Bibi’s case, urgent action is needed RIGHT NOW,” Huckabee said last month.
A letter sent to Trump through the My Faith Votes website further noted that the U.S. has been "conspicuous by its absence" in the discussion of granting Bibi asylum.
“The United States is without question the safest place of refuge for Asia Bibi and her family. We have a 230-plus year commitment to religious freedom and tolerance. That the United States isn’t being mentioned as her ultimate destination is a betrayal of those principles and an abdication of our responsibilities," reads the letter.