Italy working to help Pakistani Christian in blasphemy case

Italy said Tuesday that it is working to help relocate the family of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted eight years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy, amid warnings from her husband that the family’s life is in danger in Pakistan.

The Foreign Ministry said it was coordinating with other countries to ensure safety for Asia Bibi and her family. In a statement, the ministry said it was ready to act on whatever the Italian government might decide — an indication that an offer of asylum might be in the offing.

Also Tuesday, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party called for Germany to grant Bibi refuge, after her husband Ashiq Masih appealed for help from the West to relocate the family.

Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting Islam’s prophet, but Pakistan’s top court acquitted her last week. Protests by hardline Islamists prompted the government to impose a travel ban on Bibi until her case is reviewed.

Bibi’s case has been closely followed in Italy for years, and Pope Francis met earlier this year with her family in a show of solidarity.

Even Italy’s hardline, anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini stressed that he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family are safe, either in Italy or some other country.

Salvini distinguished between Bibi and the tens of thousands of migrants who try to seek out a better life in Italy via smugglers’ boats from Libya.

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