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30 April 2017

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08/03/2015 PAKISTAN

Asia Bibi’s lawyer speaks out: Pakistani government is solely responsible for situation

AsiaNews interviews Saiful Malook, who is defending the Christian woman on death row on blasphemy charges. The lawyer, a Muslim, says: "People, even judges, say I am crazy to have taken on this case. They say I am an enemy of my own daughters".

Lahore (AsiaNews) - "Many legal requirements have been ignored in the case of Asia Bibi, the only woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The authorities must put aside religious sentiments and verify the facts, first. However, they are subject to the influence of religious fundamentalists and do not stop the militants from attacking those accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, or setting fire to their homes", says Saiful Malook, Asia Bibi’s lawyer, speaking exclusively to AsiaNews.

The Supreme Court lawyer , a Muslim, took over the case last October, after the Lahore High Court rejected Asia Bibi’s appeal against the sentence passed by a lower court. Pope Francis blessed the family of the woman, who is in prison since 2010 after being accused of blasphemy. Worldwide, associations and Christian groups breathed a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court blocked the execution and ordered a retrial in late July.

On that day, Saiful Malook had to remain in court for two hours to avoid any possible backlash. The Muslim lawyer has been very cautious since he took over the case on behalf of Salmaan Taseer, the Punjab Governor assassinated by his bodyguard for asking pardon for Asia Bibi.

"I have asked reporters - the lawyer recalls - not to take pictures. I am the father of three daughters. Special security agencies have taught me how to avoid threats when handling similar cases. People, even judges, say I am crazy to have taken over this case. They say I am the enemy of my daughters, handshakes became rarer. I was a proud Vice President of the High Court, but now my acquaintances shake their heads. Religious parties hold grudges against me. "

According to Saiful Malook, the Pakistan government is evading its responsibilities in the case of Asia Bibi, and is solely responsible for her suffering.

"Blasphemy is within the hudud (crimes against God), but none of the judges asked if the State in person or an authorized officer have filed a complaint of blasphemy against Asia. Sharia (Islamic law) says that the accused must confess their crime and all testimonies verified before the trial. All these requirements have been ignored".

However, the lawyer maintain's that the case of Asia Bibi has become highly political. "Hundreds of organizations – he explains - are calling for foreign aid to protect Asia Bibi’s family and give her legal assistance. Her benefactors should stop this trafficking”.






See also

15/03/2014 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi’s appeal to be heard by Lahore High Court
After more than four years in prison, sentenced to death without trial for "blasphemy", the Pakistani Christian will appear before High Court judges in two days time. The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, which has taken up her case, appeals to the court to "not give in to pressure from fundamentalists and make sure that justice wins out”.

15/10/2016 10:52:00 PAKISTAN
Pakistan, Islamic extremists demand hanging of "blasphemous" Asia Bibi

Demonstrations in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and other parts of the country. Chanting the slogan #HangAsia,  they demand the Christian woman and mother of five be executed. The anger and frustration of Christians entrusted to social networks. Pakistan "does not guarantee security and justice for minorities".



11/11/2010 INDIA - PAKISTAN
Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy: a campaign like for Sakineh
The Muslim scholar Asghar Ali Engineer accuses the blasphemy law of being un-Islamic and proposes an international campaign. He points his finger at the Pakistani government’s silence and that of many governments around the world. The All Indian Christian Council calls on New Delhi to submit the case to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Among the messages: "Silence is a second death sentence" for Asia Bibi.

08/07/2011 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi’s case still on hold, but family remains hopeful
The woman’s lawyer has filed a new appeal against her death sentence. After visiting her in jail, husband and daughters say, “She is frail and can barely speak, but she has faith in God and has not lost hope.” For a legal expert, “fundamentalist pressures are too strong. Only a miracle can save her.”

20/04/2011 PAKISTAN
Candles for Asia Bibi for faith shall set her free, says Islamabad bishop
Prayers and special Masses are being said in Pakistan and around the world for the 45-year-old Christian woman, sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Meanwhile, Arif Masih and his family are safe; he had been arrested on blasphemy charges and later released. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said he was in good conditions and that he did not experience any violence in prison. Another attack is carried out against a Christian in Mardan.


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