Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said talks are underway with Pakistan over Asia Bibi, a Christian woman whose acquittal on blasphemy charges against Islam last month sparked mass protests in the South Asian country.
“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with Agence France Presse in Paris, where he attended an anniversary event marking the end of World War One. His comments were confirmed by a spokesman in Ottawa.
“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, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before being released, is in protective custody because her life is in danger from those who disagree with the acquittal. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has appealed for help to Britain, Canada, Italy and the United States.
Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has urged the UK to give Bibi asylum. In a letter to his successor, Jeremy Hunt, and home secretary Sajid Javid he is reported to have said: “We cannot allow the threat of violence to deter us from doing the right thing. I do not think it is a dignified position for the UK, given our historic links with Pakistan and the extent of our influence there, to look to others to do what we are allegedly nervous to do ourselves.”
While AFP said Canada’s discussions were about potentially offering Bibi and her family asylum, this was not confirmed by the spokesman in Ottawa.
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SOURCE: The Guardian