Asia Bibi has given a landmark interview saying that her faith in Christ was what got her through her long ordeal behind bars.
In an interview today (Wednesday, 26 February) with Aid to the Church in Need, the Christian woman from Pakistan, sensationally acquitted last year, gave a powerful account of how her faith helped her through her darkest hours.
Asia Bibi, who was on death row for blasphemy said: "During my detention, I held the hand of Christ. It is thanks to him that I have stayed standing. Do not be afraid."
Describing her time in jail, she gave no impression of anger or bitterness about nine years of trial and internment.
The mother from Pakistan's Punjab province, who was accused of blaspheming against the Islamic Prophet Mohammad in June 2009, said she wants to use her media profile to speak up for other victims of injustice in her home country, including those falsely accused of blasphemy.
She said: "It is thanks to the media that I am still alive."
Asia Bibi, who has spent nine months in Canada following her departure from Pakistan, described how she longs to return to her native country.
She said: "Pakistan is my homeland. I love Pakistan passionately."
Meanwhile, she is appealing for asylum in France, saying: "I have found a lot of love here. I think I'd be fine with you."
She recalled a childhood in Pakistan where Christians mixed happily with Muslims.
Asia Bibi, who was baptised a Christian aged eight, said: "I played with Muslim neighbours. There was no separation."
She went on to explain how inter-faith relations soured, with growing numbers of Islamist attacks on Christians.
Christians, Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus and other religious minorities have experienced a disproportionate number of blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, with many accusations apparently resulting from personal vendettas.
There are frequent cases involving the abduction and forced conversion of Christian girls who are subjected to forced marriages.
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