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Confusion over images claiming Asia Bibi has left Pakistan

Mon 12 Nov 2018
By Press Association

Pakistan's government struggling with a crisis surrounding a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after eight years on death row says it is having to deal with fake images on social media purporting to show her leaving the country.

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry slammed the postings on Monday, one of which claims to show Asia Bibi meeting Pope Francis. The photo is actually of Ms Bibi's daughter from two years ago.

Mr Chaudhry says the images misidentifying Ms Bibi prompted death threats to a politician in one photograph.

 

Radical Islamists have blocked Ms Bibi's freedom and demanded she be publicly executed. They have also filed a petition to repeal her Supreme Court acquittal.

The government says Ms Bibi remains in Pakistan, at a secret location for her own protection, until the review process is finished.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned radical religious groups against using her plight to further their political aims with street protests.

AP Photo/Shakil Adil
Supporters of Pakistani radical groups burn a poster of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 

He has defended the Supreme Court judges who on October 21 acquitted the 54-year-old mother-of-five of blasphemy charges but has also acquiesced to Islamists that the acquittal be reviewed in an appeal process.

Blasphemy is a highly charged issue in Pakistan, where mere allegations or accusations that someone had insulted the Prophet Mohammed can incite mobs into a frenzy of violence. The charge also carries the death penalty and critics say the controversial blasphemy law is abused to settle religious scores.

 

Ms Bibi and her family have always maintained her innocence and say she never insulted the prophet.

Mr Chaudhry said the images prompted death threats to Fazal Khan from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party. The politician's constituency is in a deeply conservative region in the country's north-west.

"People can even be killed because of such fake postings," Mr Chaudhry said. The pictures were widely circulated on social media in Pakistan and shared on several local journalists' groups, even a police and a media group.

"We are trying to seek co-operation from Twitter and Facebook against such fake news," Mr Chaudhry added.

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