British former foreign secretary: UK must grant Asia Bibi asylum
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LONDON, England, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A high profile British politician has called upon the British government to grant asylum to Catholic Pakistani Asia Bibi.
Boris Johnson, London’s former mayor and Britain’s former foreign secretary, has written a letter to the nation’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, in response to reports that the United Kingdom would not grant Bibi asylum because of “security concerns.”
Earlier this week the British Pakistani Christian Association alleged that, while offering help, the British government was too frightened by “potential unrest” and “attacks on embassies and civilians” to permit Asia Bibi to come to the UK.
In his letter Johnson said that such dangers should not prevent the UK from doing the right thing.
“I am well aware, as a former foreign secretary, of the constant threat to our overseas missions but we cannot allow the threat of violence to deter us from doing the right thing,” he wrote.
“I do not think it is a dignified position for the UK, given our historic links with Pakistan and the extent of our influence there, to look to others to do what we are allegedly nervous to do ourselves.”
Johnson added that “brave” Asia Bibi’s life was in danger and that she has an overwhelming claim for compassion from the British government.
Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association told LifeSiteNews that Boris Johnson is “super-supportive” and that his group was “very pleased” to read the former Foreign Secretary’s remarks.
Chowdhry met with Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih in October, and said that the family had expressed interest in finding refuge in the UK or Canada.
Chowdhry explained that the UK, the USA, and Canada have the largest Pakistani Christian diaspora communities. He said that Bibi and her family shouldn’t live “locked up” in a safe place but also have the right to a social life.
Asia Bibi’s English is “rudimentary,” Chowdhry revealed, and “she’s suffered mental trauma.” Therefore, it would not be ideal for the family to live entirely apart from a Pakistani community. They are, he reminded LifeSiteNews, simple farmworkers.
There are over one million Pakistanis living in the United Kingdom, and 90 percent are Muslim. Chowdhry denied that this renders the UK an unsafe place for Asia Bibi and her family to live while acknowledging that some places are safer than others.
“We’re not going to send them to the heart of Bradford,” he said.
Bradford, a town in Yorkshire, was the scene of a dramatic police rescue of a Pakistani Christian family. In 2015, Christian convert Nissar Hussein was attacked outside his Bradford home by Pakistani British Muslims and left with two broken bones. The following year the family was escorted from Bradford by police and resettled in a safer location.
Asia Bibi, 53, is the middle-aged Catholic mother of five who was recently acquitted of blasphemy by Pakistan’s supreme court. Bibi was arrested after an altercation with some women while they were employed berry-picking. When Bibi drank water from a bowl, the Muslim women around protested that as a Christian she had rendered the vessel unclean. They later claimed that Bibi had insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammed in response. Bibi has repeated denied the allegation.
After a mob invaded Bibi’s home, attacking her and her family, she was arrested and charged with blasphemy. A local judge sentenced her to death by hanging. The sentence was upheld by Lahore High Court, and Bibi spent nine years in solitary confinement for her own protection.
No one has yet been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy, but dozens have been murdered following accusations that they have blasphemed. News of Bibi’s acquittal led to protests throughout Pakistan, and her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled to Holland.
Wilson Chowdhry told LifeSiteNews that before last Monday, when Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih asked for the world’s help in a video message, no country had offered the family asylum.