20 November 2018, The Tablet

Berlin prepared to offer asylum to Asia Bibi


The British Government has been urged also to offer asylum to Asia Bibi but has so far remained silent


Berlin prepared to offer asylum to Asia Bibi

Saif-ul-Malook, lawyer of Christin Asia Bibi, persecuted in Pakistan, at a press conference in Hessen, Frankfurt.
Photo: Boris Roessler/DPA/PA Images

The German government is prepared to offer asylum to the Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi. Ms Bibi was freed from prison in Pakistan’s Punjab province on 7 November after spending eight years on death row for alleged blasphemy. Muslim co-workers had accused her of insulting Muhammad during an argument when they accused her of contaminating a cup of water because she was a Christian drinking from it.

Since her release was announced, Islamist mobs have brought Pakistani cities to a standstill, calling for her and the judges who ruled for her release to be beheaded. Prime Minister Imran Khan caved in to the mobs’ demands by forbidding her to leave the country and allowing an appeal against the Supreme Court ruling.

The British Government has been called on to offer asylum but has so far remained silent.   

Ms Bibi’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, is expected in Germany this week. “I want to make it possible for my client to leave Pakistan safely at last”, he told "Bild am Sonntag" on 18 November.

German politicians have assured him of their support. “After all she and her family have suffered, her departure from Pakistan can no longer be left hanging in the air just because we cannot agree on which country is prepared to let her in. The federal government must now act. Offering her asylum would send out a strong signal for religious freedom and human rights”, the head of the Green party in Germany, Katrin Göring-Eckart declared on Sunday. (18 November.)

The Central Council of Muslims (ZMD) has invited Asia Bibi to an interreligious dialogue event in Germany. “We would greatly welcome it if the Catholic Church would support us with this interreligious  project”, ZMD chairman Mazyek said on Sunday in Berlin and added that he had written to Cardinal Reinhard Marx asking him for his support.

According to "Bild am Sonntag", the German Foreign Office is in contact with the Pakistani government.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, was among the signatories to an open letter calling on the UK Government to offer asylum to Asia Bibi. The letter, from seven church leaders including Rt Revd Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said Christians in Scotland stood with the Christian community in Pakistan. They wrote: “This case has put into sharp focus the dangers facing Christians in Pakistan and to that end we would implore you to grant the family the right to remain in the United Kingdom.”

 


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