Asia Bibi Remains in Hiding From Islamists; No Asylum Plan in Sight

Dec 1, 2018 by

by Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register:

The urgency to grant Asia Bibi and her family asylum has increased following reports that her two daughters have been “constantly receiving threats,” have had to move homes four times and are in fear of their lives.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Asia of blasphemy on Oct. 31 but the decision sparked protests and death threats against Asia and her family from Islamist groups in the country.

Since her release after an 8-year imprisonment, Asia and her husband Ashiq have reportedly been in a safe place protected by the Pakistan government, while their daughters Eisham and Esha are staying with Joseph Nadeem, a family guardian who has been taking care of the family since Asia was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010.

“We’re afraid,” Nadeem told Aid to the Church in Need Nov. 29. “In recent days, the Islamists have fired at the gate of our home.  We are constantly receiving threats and on more than one occasion we have been followed.”

Nadeem, whose family is also in danger, said he, his family and Asia’s daughters have had change houses four times. “The Islamists hunt us down and every time we realize that we are in danger we immediately run away. We can’t even go and buy food. I only go out at night with my face covered,” he said.

Ashiq has been pleading on his family’s behalf for asylum in the U.K., Italy, U.S. and Canada but so far, no asylum has been granted. Pakistan is preventing Asia from leaving the country, reportedly to help calm the unrest prompted by her release.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., wrote Nov. 20 that the United States should deny any aid to Pakistan while Asia Bibi is unable to leave the country, and called on President Trump, who has yet to speak publicly about the case, to personally intervene to grant her asylum. In the U.K., Catholic peer Lord Alton of Liverpool has been pressuring the British government to offer the Bibi family asylum, but British Prime Minister Theresa May has so far refused, saying instead that the government is “working with other countries” to make sure “the safety and security of Asia Bibi and her family, are what is provided for.”

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