Asia Bibi Breaks Silence in New Book
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who spent years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy, has published a book about her experiences and her new life. Ms Bibi released a memoir, EnfinLibre, or ‘Finally Free’, written with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet.
She was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a Pakistani court in 2010 but acquitted in 2018. She currently lives in an undisclosed location in Canada. Ms.Bibi, 47, has always maintained her innocence in a highly sensitive case that polarised Pakistan and was closely followed around the world. The Pakistan Supreme Court’s quashing of her sentence in October 2018 led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws, while more liberal sections of society urged her release.
In the new book, Ms.Bibi recounts her arrest, the conditions of her prison detention and her eventual release. She also discusses the challenges of adjusting to her new life in Canada. In an excerpt released by the publishing house, she writes: “How could I ever imagine in 50 years that I would become a global symbol of the fight against religious extremism when I am but a simple, illiterate peasant?
“From my small windowless cell, I often wondered why Pakistan was targeting me.” She describes the conditions of her detention, where her neck was “encased in an iron collar that the guard can tighten with a huge nut”, according to excerpts published by the AFP news agency. She writes that few of the other prisoners showed her sympathy.
The book was published by Éditions du Rocher in French with an English version due out later this year. Ms Bibi collaborated on the book with Ms Tollet, who spent years working in Pakistan. The journalist has long championed her case and published two books on the subject.
Ms Bibi went on trial after an argument she had with a group of women in June 2009. She was later beaten up at her home and her attackers claimed she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation. Acquitting her, the Supreme Court said that the case was based on unreliable evidence.