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Hopes of Asia Bibi fleeing Pakistan before Christmas dashed

Supporters of Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row, say she will spend the festive season under close protection in a mystery location.

Wilson Chowdhry from the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) said: "Despite her joy at being free, I cannot believe that Asia Bibi is feeling like much of a winner today.

"Especially as she remains under police protection in Pakistan at a secret location, unable to even exit the room she is in for fear she will be instantly killed..."

Reunited with her husband, the mother-of-five remains separated from her wider family - amid a bid by hard-line Islamists to reverse her acquittal in October. They want to see Ms Bibi publicly executed.

In an update to supporters, the BPCA said it had received confirmation from Pakistani authorities that a petition challenging the Supreme Court ruling will be heard in January.

Ms Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy. She had been accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad following a row with a group of Muslim woman over a water cup.

Meanwhile, Christians are being urged to pray for more than a dozen believers in Pakistan who remain in prison while their appeals against blasphemy convictions are pending.

Among them, is the teenager Patras Masih who was arrested after it was alleged that blasphemous texts were found on a phone in his possession.

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