The lawyer who helped Asia Bibi, a Christian woman freed from jail after Pakistan’s top court overturned her death sentence in a blasphemy case, was offered a temporary asylum in the Netherlands on Thursday after he fled from Pakistan fearing for the safety of his family. Lawyer Saiful Mulook defended Asia Bibi who spent 8 years on death row until being acquitted on Wednesday.
This has come a day after Asia Bibi was released from Multan jail. There were reports that she was taken to Noor Khan Airbase Rawalpindi from where she was supposed to fly to the Netherlands, however, earlier today Pakistani authorities refuted these reports, saying she has not left for the Netherlands and was in Pakistan.
WHAT IS THE ENTIRE CASE?
Aisa Bibi is the second Pakistani Christian who was sentenced to death under country’s blasphemy laws under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for defaming Prophet Mohammad. The offence if proven carries the mandatory death penalty under the law.
The case dates back to 2009 when as per Asia she entered into a quarrel with Mafia and Asma, both are eyewitnesses in the case and deposed to Asia making blasphemous remarks. The argument started when both the women refused to drink water brought by Asia Bibi because she was Christian. The two, Mafia and Asma along with a local cleric, Qari Mohammad Salaam later filed the case of blasphemy against her.
A trial court convicted Asia Bibi for blasphemy in November 2010 and sentenced her to death, but the order was suspended by the Supreme Court in 2015.
In 2018, the Supreme Court gave the final verdict acquitting Asia from all charges.
The case attracted international coverage and became a high profile one when two officials, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer and former Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti (a Christian) were assassinated for taking Asia’s side publicly.