There are unconfirmed reports that Asia Bibi’s two daughters have sought asylum in Canada.
With Asia in protective custody after being acquitted of her blasphemy charges in October by the Pakistani Supreme Court, calls to violence towards her and her kin have persisted, according to Bibi’s brother-in-law Joseph Nadeem.
With hardline religious parties like that of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat calling for Asia’s continued persecution, the “constant threats” faced by her and her family facilitated their move to Canada “for their safety,” according to the Associated Press.
In a statement by Chrystia Freeland’s office, the Foreign Minister’s press secretary stated “We are working with like-minded friends and allies on this issue. Canada is prepared to do everything we can to ensure the safety of Asia Bibi.” No further comment was given as to the authenticity of the unconfirmed report.
CPC MP and immigration critic Michelle Rempel was quick to challenge the Foreign Minister’s Office, citing concerns over the LPC’s ineffectiveness in handling asylum cases, as well as their propensity for turning tragedy into media events.
“The [family’s] safety should be paramount,” says Rempel. “[It] is a clear case of someone who should be granted asylum in Canada,” which she hopes doesn’t devolve into another photo op, out of concern for their safety.
With Andrew Leslie, the parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Minister’s Office, claiming “discreet and delicate discussions [were] underway” as early as November, there has been little to show for the government’s efforts with regards to granting Bibi asylum.
However, on the case of her daughters, perhaps their alleged asylum claims are in motion behind the scenes? Maybe, maybe not. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment further until the unconfirmed report has been verified.
While Bibi, a persecuted Christian and Pakistani national who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy charges, remaining a victim of religious persecution, her story and others like hers should continue to inspire Canadians and people from around the world to speak out against apparent human rights violations, no matter the perpetrator—irrespective of the photo ops, fame, or political capital garnered.