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Canadian broadcaster offers to sponsor Christian woman spared death in Pakistan

Pakistan protesters rally against a Supreme Court decision that ordered the release of Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy, on Oct. 31, 2018, in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan's top court on Wednesday acquitted Bibi, who was sentenced to death under the country's controversial blasphemy law, a landmark ruling that sparked protests by hard-line Islamists and raised fears of violence. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

TORONTO (RNS) — Yes TV, Canada’s largest multifaith broadcaster, has sent a letter to the Canadian government offering to sponsor and settle Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman who was cleared of blasphemy charges last week.

Her death sentence was commuted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Oct. 31 following an appeal.

The decision prompted violent demonstrations by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan Islamist movement. Her lawyer, Saiful Malook, and his family have fled to the Netherlands out of concern for their safety.

Although cleared of the charges, Bibi has been living in a prison converted to a safe house since the decision, unable to leave for fear of her life.

The mother of five and her husband, Ashiq Masih, are pleading for asylum in Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom.

Yes TV’s CEO, Lorna Dueck, wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on Nov. 5, urging them to welcome Bibi to Canada.

Logo courtesy of Yes TV.

“With Asia’s own expressed desire to seek asylum in Canada, our country must welcome this woman and her family, who, unless a nation intervenes imminently, will face death despite the expressed full pardon of her own Court and government,” she wrote.

“I know of safe and accepting Canadians who would be eager to put a network of safety around Asia and her family,” she added, noting that Yes TV is committed to providing the family with full sponsorship in Canada.

In an interview at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, Dueck said “it will be an easy thing to find the support to settle them [the family].”

She added that “Canada should lead the world” in offering them safety.

A source in contact with the prime minister’s office confirmed it had received the letter.

This story is available for republication.

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John Longhurst

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