Britain has rejected an appeal for asylum from Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian acquitted of blasphemy last week who is under the threat of death from Islamic leaders who struck a deal with her government to block her exit.
The British government said allowing Bibi to enter the U.K. would cause unrest among Muslims, according to an advocate, the Huffington Post reported.
Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said he’s been led to believe that the British government “had concerns that her moving to the UK would cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists.”
Bibi is still in prison in Punjab province, even though the Supreme Court ordered she be “released from the jail forthwith if not required to be detained in connection with any other case.”
Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer commented that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Britain “is now allowing Islamic jihadist threats of violence to determine its policies.”
The British Home Office told the Huffington Post it could not comment on individual cases.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned Bibi’s 2010 conviction for “insulting the prophet Muhammad” on Oct. 31 after spending eight years on death row.
The ruling 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.”
Last week, 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.”