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John LonghurstMay 10, 2019
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Catholic acquitted of blasphemy, listens during a 2010 news conference after her 2009 arrest. Pakistani authorities have freed Bibi, and she has flown to Canada to join her family at a secret address.(CNS photo/Asad Karim, Reuters)

WINNIPEG, Canada (RNS) — When he heard that Asia Bibi — the Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy — was on her way to Canada, Nadeem Bhatti could hardly believe it.

“We had been told three or four times she was going to be leaving, but it never turned out,” said Bhatti, a friend of the family who last spoke to Bibi three days ago.

On Tuesday (May 7), Bibi, whose death sentence was overturned late last year, left Pakistan for her new home in this country.

The daughters, both in their late teens, arrived in Canada last December while Bibi and her husband, Ashiq Masih, remained behind in Pakistan awaiting permission to leave.

Bhatti said the ordeal has taken a toll on Bibi.

Now that the family is back together, they are asking for privacy and time for everyone to rest and heal, he said.

“They need time alone,” he said, adding “they have a very good support group to help them.”

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