Great Britain has not offered asylum to Asia Bibi, a Catholic woman from Pakistan who has unwittingly become the center of virulent protests in the country.
Bibi, a former farmworker who according to conflicting reports is either 53 or 54 years old, was recently acquitted of blasphemy charges by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, after spending eight years on death row. In 2009, she was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed by two Muslim women, reportedly after a quarrel in which she offended them by drinking from the same cup of water that she had fetched for them. Bibi has long maintained that the blasphemy accusations are false.
In the wake of Bibi’s acquittal, religious hardliners flooded the streets of Karachi and demanded her beheading. The video below shows the intense opposition thousands had to Bibi’s release from prison. The backlash to Bibi’s release has been so intense, even Pakistani children are reportedly calling for her execution.
VIDEO: Thousands of supporters of Islamist parties take to the streets of Karachi to protest Asia Bibi's acquittal and call for her beheading. Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy was freed from jail pic.twitter.com/zh24mV0TYM
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 9, 2018
Her family members said last week that they would try to seek asylum abroad, out of fear that Bibi’s life was in danger.
Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, which has been in touch with Bibi’s family, told The Telegraph that the British government is trying to help Bibi, it did not offer her asylum due to concerns “about potential unrest in the country, attacks on embassies and civilians.”
Several other countries, he added, have come forward to offer her asylum. According to CNN, Bibi’s lawyer says she, along with her husband and two daughters, is now seeking asylum in the Netherlands.
Speaking to HuffPost, Chowdhry noted that “the majority of the British Muslim population are fine with” Pakistani Christians, and that only an extremist fringe harbors ill will toward the group.
But he told The Telegraph that he thinks it is “an enduring shame that a country with such a lauded history of helping refugees and asylum seekers, that when the Asia Bibi case has come before them, they haven’t been as generous as they have for many victims in the past.”
A spokeswoman for Britain’s Home Office told The Telegraph that it could not comment on individual cases.