ISLAMABAD – Christians around the world rejoiced when the Supreme Court of Pakistan announced last week that it had acquitted Asia Bibi of the charges of blasphemy for which she had been held on death row since 2010. Although the court issued an order to do so, she has yet to be released.
As expected, protests by hardline Muslims have broken out across the country opposing her acquittal and impending release.
The same rioters prompted Saiful Malook, the attorney who defended her in court, to leave the country. In fear for his own life, he has fled to an undisclosed location in Europe.
The riots had been instigated by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) party. The Islamic party practices “widespread street power and massive protests” to oppose any violations of or changes to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. One of its goals is to establish Sharia law as the official law of Pakistan. In this case, the TLP has threatened to kill Asia Bibi if she is released.
The leader of the TLP warned, “There will be war if they send Asia out of the country.” Another TLP official ordered the execution of the three judges who handed down the acquittal. He said, “Whoever has got any access to them, kill them before the evening.”
The party was founded to support the assassins of a provincial governor and a federal minister who had called for Asia’s release in 2011.
In the meantime, it is believed that Asia continues to be confined to her cell. The Pakistani army and intelligence services have been charged with her safety. They have put extra security measures in place for her protection.
While her family has requested asylum from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, yet another strange event has unfolded.
The Pakistani government negotiated with the TLP to cease their protests. That compromise agreement has led to further complications. To get the TLP to cease the riots in the streets, the government agreed to open a review of the Supreme Court’s decision and possibly put Asia Bibi’s name on an “Exit Control List” that would effectively prevent her from leaving the country.
Should the latter occur, her life would be in imminent danger. Missions Box News will publish updates to this story as they become available.
- CNN, Asia Bibi stuck in Pakistani prison over death fears
- Forbes, Despite The Supreme Court Judgment, Asia Bibi Remains Imprisoned And Is Still At Risk Of Death
- CNN, Asia Bibi’s lawyer flees Pakistan in fear for his life, associate says
- Channel News Asia, Twitter suspends account of hardline cleric on Pakistan government’s request
- Wikipedia, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan
- HazteOir.org, Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]