Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Parliamentarians call for asylum for Asia Bibi

Justin Trudeau considers offering asylum to Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian accused of blasphemy Dutch send some Pakistan embassy staff home after death threats
Melinda Barton | 15 November, 2018, 14:57

The former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has called on his predecessor Jeremy Hunt today to grant Asia Bibi asylum in the United Kingdom, to which Stihler responded: "It's not often that I agree with Boris Johnson these days, with Brexit and everything, but on this issue about Asia Bibi I think fundamentally the foreign secretary should be wholeheartedly behind granting her asylum in our country and ensure that she can live a free and full life".

A local imam then claimed Bibi insulted the Prophet Muhammad - a charge she denies.

Islamists linked to the anti-blasphemy Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party that orchestrated across the Muslim country soon after the supreme court's decision have threatened to kill Bibi, her lawyer, and the judges who cleared her. We are grateful for the more than 230 parliamentarians from different countries and across the political spectrum who have raised their voices in support of, and in solidarity with, Asia Bibi. Several governments have offered to grant her family asylum.

Islamabad has also agreed not to prevent the TLP from filing a petition to add Bibi to a list preventing her from leaving Pakistan. "Aasia Bibi is in Pakistan and images of her leaving the country and greeted overseas are fake", Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told PTI.

The charge also carries the death penalty and critics say the controversial blasphemy law is abused to settle religious scores.

He said some media outlets showed irresponsibility by reporting that Bibi had left the country after her release from the jail. Muslim labourers objected to her touching the water bowl as a non-Muslim.

The apex court decision set off a wave of protests across the length and breadth of Pakistan which ended after three-days following an agreement with government. Asia Bibi and her husband Ashiq Masih, are the only Christians in their village of Ittan Wali and had been repeatedly pressured into converting to Islam.

In a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Johnson said: "I am well aware, as a former foreign secretary, of the constant threat to our overseas missions but we can not allow the threat of violence to deter us from doing the right thing". Italy had offered asylum to Bibi.

In a letter by Boris Johnson to Mr Javid, he said: "I can not believe for a minute that these are considerations which should be allowed to prevail".

CNN recently spoke to members of the Christian minority community in Pakistan impacted by Bibi's acquittal.

The embassy is still open and people can still apply for visas but "a number of people" have returned to the Netherlands, Blok said.