Boris Johnson Calls for Granting Pakistani Blasphemy Convict Asylum in UK

Pauline Gross
November 15, 2018

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Aasia Bibi, recently freed from prison following the overturning of her blasphemy conviction by the Supreme Court, in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart on Monday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Tuesday.

Bibi, a mother of five who is believed to now be in her 50's, has been blocked from leaving the country amid a wave of protests over her acquittal.

In Pakistan, negotiations have stalled over Asia Bibi's asylum.

How far-reaching are Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and what impacts have they had on religious minorities there?

After her release verdict, one Islamic group named Tehreek Lbbiak Pakistan TLP voiced against Asia Bibi release.

One politician received death threats because of the misidentification. The neighbors claimed later that Bibi had committed blasphemy by insulting the prophet Mohammed.

Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP and former Foreign Secretary, wrote to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, urging the Government to grant asylum, the Daily Mail reported.

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Following reports that Justin Trudeau is close to securing an agreement with Islamabad for Mrs Bibi's safe passage to Canada, Sir Simon added that the United Kingdom was prepared to work with allies to ensure she reached a "safe harbour". "It is disingenuous for the (far) right to suggest that she and her family are not coming here (because) it would offend British Muslims", said Zubaida Haque, Deputy Director of the race equality think-tank, the Runnymede Trust. 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.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.

It fell to former Foreign Affairs Minister, now Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, to make one of the few coherent arguments for the blasphemy referendum when he said that the very presence of the unused provision is used by hardliners elsewhere to justify brutal laws.

"We call on the government of Pakistan to ensure that the decision of the nation's supreme court is upheld".

Nighat Dad, a Pakistani lawyer and activist, said her tweets were not the same as Rizvi's since they did not advocate violence.

Supporters of Pakistani religious parties coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Alliance rally against the acquittal of Asia Bibi.

More than 92,000 people have signed two petitions calling on the Home Office to allow them to stay, however the UK Government has rejected their plea for asylum, the Church of Scotland said.

Other reports by GizPress

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