Saif al-Mulook, the lawyer of a Pakistani Christian woman who was recently released after being acquitted of blasphemy charges has sought asylum in the Netherlands after being forced to flee Pakistan on November 3 out of fear for the safety of his family.
Mulook helped free Asia Bibi from prison and a possible execution after she was accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammad. Bibi was acquitted after the court ruled that the prosecution lacked substantial evidence to convict her under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws that have been the basis of Pakistani jurisprudence since Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Islamist former general-turned-pro-American-president, introduced a series of religious ordinances in the 1980s, at the height of the Soviet invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan.
Bibi, a mother of five and a native of Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, had spent eight years on death row. Upon hearing of her acquittal, Islamic fundamentalist movements, including the largest legal Islamist political party in the country, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, threatened to kill her.
Bibi still remains in her prison cell, which is now acting as a safe house with extra surveillance cameras and thorough searches of everyone who comes in contact with her, including the personnel charged with making her food.
The government of former cricket star, newly-named Prime Minister Imran Khan, has succumbed to pressure from Pakistan’s Islamic fundamentalists and has allowed for a review of the court’s ruling on releasing Bibi.
Bibi’s husband is believed to be seeking asylum in the West, according to a report by UK daily the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Dutch officials in Islamabad are seeking assurances for the safety of their diplomatic mission, who have been targeted by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Dutch news agency NOS reported on November 7.