Supporters of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi – who recently was acquitted of “blasphemy” against Islam but faces death threats in her home country – are asking the United States to intervene after an appeal apparently was rejected by Britain.
Last week, as WND reported, an advocate for Bibi in the United Kingdom said the British government turned her down because her entry would cause unrest among Muslims and pose a security threat to British embassies in the Muslim world. Bibi is still in prison in Punjab province, after spending eight years on death row, even though the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered her release Oct. 31 after overturning her 2010 conviction for “insulting the prophet Muhammad.”
The Trump administration, wrote M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy in a tweet, “has an opportunity to not only do what’s right and humane for Asia Bibi but change the immigration narrative re dissidents.”
CNS News noted that Jasser, a practicing Muslim, said the U.K. “is too spineless vs Islamists. Give Asia Bibi and her family asylum now from the torrent of Islamist mobs!”
Ayan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born critic of Islam known as an advocate for the rights of Muslim women, tweeted, “If Britain won’t offer Asia Bibi asylum, Trump should.”
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday his government was holding talks with Pakistan over the possibility of offering asylum to Bibi.
“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau told Agence France-Presse in Paris where he was attending a peace conference organized by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which fought for Bibi’s freedom for more than four years, declined to comment regarding the White House’s response to the asylum appeal. ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, President Trump’s personal lawyer, was a key advocate for American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from a Turkish prison last month.
The White House press office has not responded to a request for comment.
Deal with radicals
The Oct. 31 acquittal of Bibi provoked violent protests led by the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party, whose leaders called for the judges responsible for the verdict to be killed along with Bibi. In response, the government struck a deal with the Islamic extremists, who agreed to stop the protests in exchange for barring Bibi from leaving the country.
Bibi’s lawyer Saif Mulook has left Pakistan, fearing for his life.
Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, who is in Britain, released a video message saying he feared for his family’s safety.
He appealed to “the Prime Minister of the U.K. help us and as far as possible grant us freedom.”
Earlier this month, he posted a video appealing also to the leaders of the United States and Canada to help his wife and other family members to leave Pakistan safely.
‘Appeasement only provides oxygen’
While no one has been executed by the Pakistani government for blasphemy, at least 65 people accused of the “crime” have been murdered by Muslim vigilantes since 1990.
Bibi’s problems began when Muslim co-workers refused to drink water from a cup from which she had taken a sip and demanded she convert to Islam. Her refusal prompted a mob to later allege she had insulted Muhammad. She was convicted in 2010 under section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code that punishes blasphemy against Islam’s prophet with the death penalty. She was sentenced to execution by hanging.
The Supreme Court ruled, however, that the basis of the blasphemy charge was a “concocted” story.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said Monday, according to the U.S. that the mission “continues to follow the case closely.”
CNS News noted that since 2006, the government has engaged in various agreements to appease TLP that have ended in failure, including withdrawing troops from certain areas, pardoning terrorists and allowing Shariah, or Islamic law, zones.
Chowdhry said in a statement on his group’s website that he’s not surprised the Pakistani government “has caved in to extremists – this is a commonly recurring socio-political trend in Pakistan.”
“Politicians have historically been hijacked by either the extremist groups within the nation or the military, this situation is simply the status quo as far as I am concerned,” he said.
In a column Sunday in the Karachi daily Dawn, security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana wrote: “State appeasement only provides oxygen to extremist groups, increasing their bargaining power.”