Asia Bibi's daughter, Eisham Ashiq.
Weeks after opening its arms to the Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed who faced death in her country because she renounced Islam, we Canadians are now hosting another woman escaping the Islamic World.
This time it's a Christian mother from Pakistan who spent nearly ten years on death row for the crime of daring to drink from a cup of water reserved for Muslims. Her name is Aasiya Noreen also known as Asia Bibi.
Asia Bibi's daughters reportedly arrived in Canada before her and Bibi herself was believed to have arrived in Toronto on a Tuesday afternoon flight, the family reunited for the first time in a decade.
Asia's travails began on June 14, 2009 on a hot June summer day in Pakistan's Punjab in the village of Katanwala, near the holy town of Nankana Sahib, birthplace of the founder of the Sikh religion Guru Nanak.
Among the farm workers that day was Asia Bibi, a lone Christian among a group of Muslim women. Thirsty after working under the scorching sun, Asia took a break to quench her thirst from a community water dispenser. As Asia was drinking from the cup, other women — all Muslim — got enraged because supposedly she had contaminated the cup as Christians are considered "unclean."
In Pakistan's Punjab, indigenous Christians are considered as low caste converts from Hinduism and treated as "untouchables." The racist slur by which we Punjabi Muslims refer to fellow Punjabi Christians is "choora," the collector of human waste.
Asia Bibi too was that day the designated "choora." The argument escalated and soon Asia was dragged away and made to "confess" to an Islamic cleric that she had blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad.
Later that day a Muslim mob attacked Asia Bibi's house and the woman was taken into police custody from where she will emerge as a free woman today.
In between, in 2010, a lower court convicted Bibi of blasphemy and sentence to death by hanging. The death sentence was upheld by higher courts until the Supreme Court declared her innocent late last year.
Asia Bibi will be able to spend the rest of her life in Canada, but what about the Christians left behind in Pakistan?
As my colleague Farzana Hassan wrote in this paper as far back as 2014, "Bibi is just the most prominent example of non-Muslims living on the edge of Pakistani society in a system that marginalizes and persecutes them."
The words of two Pakistani Canadian Christians who spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March 2017 still resonate in my ears.
Rev. James Luke of the Lutheran church, a retired group captain of the Pakistan Air Force, tore into Islamabad's horrific human rights record concerning the indigenous Christians of Pakistan. He said they have been marginalized from mainstream Muslim society in apartheid-like social segregation.
He highlighted the Feb. 6, 1997 attack by 30,000 Muslims in the Christian village of Shanti Nagar (Peace Town). Waving placards that read "Kill Christians," the jihadis destroyed 750 homes and four churches.
Another Pakistani-Canadian Christian who spoke at the UNHRC event was Jawaid Bakhsh, a retired major of the Pakistan army. He spoke at length about the social ostracization of Pakistan's indigenous Christian community by the majority of Pakistani Muslims.
"Today across the Islamic world, Christians are marked for annihilation and Christian blood is shed by the sword with impunity," he stated.
Canada and the world's democracies should insist that Islamabad quash its blasphemy law that allows for such injustices in the name of race and religion.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.