The Council of Paris, the governing body of the French capital, on Tuesday unanimously adopted a proposal by the city’s socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo to award honorary citizenship to Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who has been on death row since 2010.
Mrs Bibi, mother of five, was condemned to death for blasphemy after her Muslim co-workers objected to her drinking from the same water as them and accused her of insulting Muhammad. The High Court in Lahore upheld her sentence in October 2014. On 30 November the Supreme Court agreed to re-open the case. A new trial should begin in May, the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“Falsely accused of insulting the Prophet of Islam, Asia Bibi is the victim of squabbles between families in her village linked to her adherence to the Christian faith in a majority Muslim country.
“To support her in her fight against ignorance and obscurantism, Anne Hildago wishes that Paris raises Asia Bibi to the level of honorary citizen, a rare distinction granted to the world’s most emblematic defenders of human rights," the statement explained.
“To be an honorary citizen is to embody the values of Paris, the values of liberty and tolerance. By this bold gesture, I wish to testify to the solidarity of Paris towards the numerous women around the world of all confessions who are religious obscurantism and political extremism,” Ms Hildago said.
The mayor reiterated her commitment to supporting Mrs Bibi until a presidential pardon or a new sentence restores her liberty, and restated that the city would welcome her, with her family, as soon as this freedom is restored to her.
In December she unveiled a banner of Mrs Bibi which has remained on display on the steps of the City Hall. At the unveiling she stressed: “We must support Asia Bibi, because women in all regions of the world are the first victims of an order which theocrats, who twist the messages of all religions, try to impose.”
Photos: Mairie de Paris