Finally free!: Asia Bibi in Pakistani prison, life in exile


Paris: The Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi reports of the hellish conditions of eight years on death row, which she spent in exile because of blasphemy, but also because of the pain.

Bibi was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for blasphemy in 2010 and was dramatically acquitted in 2018. She now lives in an unknown location in Canada.

French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who wrote a book about her, once lived in the country where she led a support campaign for her.

She is the only reporter Bibi met while in Canada. In the book "Enfin libre!" ("Finally free") – will be published on Wednesday in French with an English version, which will be published in September – Bibi reports on her arrest, the conditions of detention, the relief of her release, but also on the difficulties to prepare for a new life ,

"You already know my story through the media," she said in the book. "But you are far from understanding my daily life in prison or my new life," she said. "I became a prisoner of fanaticism," she said.
In prison "tears were the only companions in the cell".

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She described the terrible conditions in dirty prisons in Pakistan, where she was chained and ridiculed by other detainees.

"My wrists burn me, it is difficult to breathe. My neck … is surrounded by an iron collar that the guard can tighten with a huge nut," she wrote.

"A long chain drags itself across the dirty floor. That connects my neck to the hand that is tied and pulls me like a dog on a leash.

"Deep inside, a dull fear leads me into the depths of the darkness. A tearing fear that will never leave me." Many other prisoners showed no pity. "I'm startled by the scream of a woman. & # 39; To death! & # 39; The other women join in. Hanged! & # 39 ;."

Blasphemy is an arson charge in Pakistan, where even a hint of an unsubstantiated claim to have offended Islam can trigger the death of mobs.

Her acquittal over the allegations that emerged from an incident in 2009 when she was dealing with a Muslim employee led to violent protests that paralyzed the country under the leadership of Minister Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Bibi, who vehemently opposed the indictment, argued in the book that the Christian minority in predominantly Muslim Pakistan is still being persecuted.

"Even with my freedom, the climate (for Christians) doesn't seem to have changed and Christians can expect all kinds of reprisals," she said.

"You live with that Damcoles sword over your head." And while Canada gives her a safer and safer future, Bibi also has to put up with the fact that she will probably never set foot in her home again.

"In this unknown country I'm ready for a new start, maybe for a new life. But at what price?" My heart broke when I had to leave without saying goodbye to my father or other family members. //"Pakistan is my country. I love my country but I am in exile forever, "she said. (AFP)