Italy is one of several countries seeking to help a Pakistani Christian woman who has spent eight years on death row for blasphemy, a rights group said on Wednesday.
Several governments have said they want to help Aasia Bibi and “we’ll have to see which government acts first,” Marta Petrosillo, spokeswoman for Aid to the Church in Need, which helps persecuted Christians worldwide, told AFP.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted on Tuesday: “I will do everything humanly possible to guarantee this young woman’s future.”
Bibi faces threats to her life in Pakistan where, despite her acquittal by the Supreme Court, ultra-conservative Islamists blockaded major cities to demand her immediate execution in a three-day standoff that ended when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration agreed to allow a review of the ruling.
The deal has left Bibi in legal limbo—and languishing in detention for a crime of which she has been acquitted. Her husband Ashiq Masih has said the delay in releasing his wife, a mother of five, was adding to the family’s agony.
Italian Catholic association ACS said that Masih had specifically appealed to Italy for help to leave Pakistan. “We are very worried because our lives are in danger. We don’t even have anything left to eat because we can’t go out to do the shopping,” Masih said, according to an Italian translation of a video posted on the association’s website.
Masih has also appealed for Britain or the United States to grant the family asylum, while her lawyer has fled to the Netherlands.
France’s junior minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa said on Wednesday she was looking at how to help Bibi “along with European and international partners.”