05/01/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Saif-ul-Malook, Asia Bibi’s Supreme Court lawyer, has been nominated by European Parliamentarians for the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award. The award is presented annually to individuals who have shown a significant commitment to one of four principals proclaimed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as essential for democracy: ‘freedom of speech and expression’, ‘freedom of worship’, ‘freedom from want’, and ‘freedom from fear’.
Malook has been specifically nominated under the ‘freedom from fear’ category of the award for his defense of Asia Bibi against the blasphemy charges that kept her on death row in Pakistan for nearly a decade. Speaking to BosNewsLife, Peter Van Dalen of the European Parliament said, “The courage Saif has shown in the whole case is remarkable. Despite the tensions surrounding the case and the threats to himself and his family, Saif-ul-Malook stood firm. He ensured that Asia Bibi had a strong defense.”
In October 2018, Bibi was finally acquitted of the blasphemy charges that had kept her on death row for more than eight years. Bibi was initially accused of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan, in 2009. Bibi was accused by Muslim coworkers who were upset that a Christian, someone they considered unclean, had used the same water container as Muslims.
In 2010, Bibi was found guilty of blasphemy by the Sessions Court and sentenced to death by hanging. Her case was appealed, but the death sentence was upheld by the High Court in October 2014.
When Bibi was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2018, hardliners in Pakistan led countrywide protests against the decision and brought the country to a standstill for three days. Since then, Bibi has been kept hidden by Pakistani authorities as her acquittal was reviewed in January 2019.
To date, Bibi remains in Pakistan. However, according to a recent interview with the BBC, Pakistan’s Prime Minister stated that Bibi would be allowed to leave Pakistan “very soon”.
In that interview, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “There is a little bit of a complication. And I can’t speak on the media about [it]. But I can’t assure you she is safe and she will be leaving in weeks.”
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