The Council of Paris, the governing body of France's capital, unanimously adopted a proposal on Tuesday by the city's mayor, to award honourary citizenship to Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was convicted for blasphemy in 2010 and has been on death row since.
According to a report published on The Tablet, mayor Anne Hidalgo's office said in a statement that a new trial should begin regarding Asia's case as on November 30 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to re-open the case.
“To support her in her fight against ignorance and obscurantism, Anne Hildago wishes that Paris raises Asia Bibi to the level of honourary citizen, a rare distinction granted to the world’s most emblematic defenders of human rights," the statement explained.
Mayor Hildago reiterated her commitment to continue her support for Bibi until a presidential pardon or a new court sentence restores her freedom. She also restated that Paris would welcome Asia and her family as soon as this freedom is restored to her.
“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,” Hildago said.
In December last year, the mayor unveiled a banner of Asia Bibi which has remained on display on the steps of the City Hall. At the unveiling, Hildago 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.”
The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.
Bibi was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl. A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.
Last year, Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih had written to the president to ask for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.
“We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President (Mamnoon) Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water,” husband Ashiq Masih wrote in an open letter dated November 17.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had said that the couple is welcomed in the city, and Masih quoted his wife as saying she sent her “deepest thanks to you Madame Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world”.