Pakistani woman maimed in acid attack becomes U.S. citizen

Julie Aftab, a Pakistani refugee, and Gloria Ervin share a laugh as they talk at their home Wednesday, July 4, 2012, in Houston. Gloria and her husband, Lee Ervin, are the host family for Julie Aftab, who was attacked in Pakistan with acid because she was a devout Christian. Melissa Phillip,AP Photo/Houston Chronicle

(CBS News) A Pakistani woman who was maimed in an acid attack 10 years ago can officially call the United States home.

Julie Aftab became a U.S. citizen on Tuesday, almost decade after she was attacked for being Christian in her native Paisalabad, Pakistan, after which she traveled to the United States for treatment.

Since then, Aftab has undergone dozens of surgeries and started a new life in Houston, Texas. She and her host family celebrated her new citizenship at the M.O. Campbell Educational Center, where she took a naturalization oath with about 2,240 other immigrants, according the Houston Chronicle.

"I never thought I would be the person I am today, and it is all because of God and his people," she said in a speech, according to the paper.

Aftab was 16 years old and working at a small store when a man approached her and asked about the cross around her neck, she explained in an interview with Fox 26 in 2010. When Aftab said she was Christian, the man yelled at her for insulting Islam. He left, but returned with another man and threw battery acid on her face, holding her head back and pouring it down her throat.

The acid instantly burned through her skin and much of her esophagus. Aftab also lost an eye and ear. Because the man claimed she committed blasphemy, her family was shunned and it was difficult for them to find a hospital to take her in.

An American bishop brought Aftab to the Unites States for treatment, where doctors repaired her cheek, eyelids and skin.

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