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Pakistan

Asia Bibi's freedom a victory for Pakistan's religious minorities

Although 2019 was a mixed year for Catholics in the Islamic republic, there were some encouraging signs

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Asia Bibi's freedom a victory for Pakistan's religious minorities

Pakistani Islamists shout slogans as they march in a protest in Islamabad on Feb. 1 against the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Catholic woman Asia Bibi's acquittal in a blasphemy case. (Photo: Farooq Naeem/AFP)

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So, how was your year? Perhaps now is the best time to take stock of events in Pakistan as church activities kick into full gear for Christmas.

Here in the Islamic republic, clergymen face a tight schedule of Christmas programs and winter weddings. Even the khateeb (preacher) of the historic Badshahi mosque in Lahore spent a busy Advent Sunday with a visiting interfaith group, most of them peace activists and students, wearing Santa caps.

However, the most delightful news for minority Christians came in May when Asia Bibi, one of the most high-profile victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, finally left for Canada. The Catholic mother of five was acquitted after spending eight years on death row since being convicted of blasphemy in 2010. It was a victory for religious minorities in Pakistan often targeted by Islamic hardliners.

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