Govt and opposition party members slug it out over sparing the life of Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, despite a deal to keep her in incarcerated while her case is reviewed
Aasia Bibi is free but remains in jail as her terrified family plead for asylum abread, and her defense attorney reveals he was ‘forced’ to flee to Europe by the UN to save his life
Footage shows rival politicians coming to blows in Pakistan’s National Assembly in Islamabad
The brawl broke out as they discussed Aasia Bibi’s case in the wake of her acquittal
Mother-of-five Bibi, 53, was sentenced to death in 2010, after being accused of insulting Islam during an argument over a water bowl with a group of Muslim women in Punjab
The Christian’s death sentence was overturned last week, after she’d spent seven years on death row infuriating hardliners, sparking nationwide protests spearheaded by opposition parties
The fisticuffs by the politicians comes as Bibi’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, claimed the UN and EU had made him leave the country
Politicians have been filmed brawling in a row over a Christian woman saved from a death row blasphemy conviction in Pakistan.
Footage shows members of government and opposition parties coming to blows in the country’s National Assembly in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s top court overturned the death sentence when it acquitted Aasia Bibi on Wednesday and ordered her immediate release.
That verdict infuriated the country’s hard-line Islamists. Around the country since, supporters of hardline Islamist party, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan [TLP] blocked the road carrying placards demanding that Asia Bibi should be hanged.
Politicians have been filmed brawling inside Pakistan’s National assembly in a row over a 51-year-old Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, saved from a death row blasphemy conviction
Pakistan’s National Assembly fight erupted over an agreement the government made with Islamists in which it agreed to impose a travel ban on her while the case is reviewed.
It comes as Saif-ul-Malook, Bibi’s lawyer, claimed the United Nations and European Union had made him leave the country.
The politicians were filmed brawling in a row over the supreme court ruling, overturning the death sentence on Asia Bibi, a Christian woman saved from a blasphemy conviction after she had spent the last 7 years on death row.
The melee was caught on tape showing members of the ruling and opposition parties coming to blows in the country’s National Assembly in Islamabad over a supreme ourt verdict
No reprieve: Asia Bibi’s attorney, Saif-ul-Malook, [photo], who has fled to Holland, said he was whisked out of Pakistan ‘against my wishes’. His client’s acquittal painted a bull’s-eye on his back for the aggrieved religious hardliners
53-year-old Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010, after being accused of insulting Islam during an argument over a water bowl with a group of Muslim women in her native Punjab. Acquitted last week, her possible release has become a political football
Saif-ul-Malook, who has fled to Holland, said he was flown out of Pakistan ‘against my wishes’ after becoming a ‘prime target’ with Islamist violence erupting in the wake of Asia Bibi’s acquittal last week.
Related: Death sentence on Pakistani Christian overturned after 8 years on death row, sparking huge protests from Muslims demanding she is hanged – Asia Bibi’s family feel despite the verdict, staying in Pakistan is too dangerous
Amid heightened tensions, Malook revealed he had contacted a United Nations official in Islamabad following the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday.
He said he was then put on a plane having been told his life was in ‘imminent danger’.
‘And then they (the UN) and the European nation ambassadors in Islamabad, they kept me for three days and then put me on a plane against my wishes,’ the lawyer told a press conference in The Hague.
‘I pressed them that I would not leave the country unless I get Asia out of the prison… I am not happy to be here without her, but everybody said that you are the prime target at the moment and the whole world is taking care of Asia Bibi.
‘Hang Asia!’The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Ms Bibi’s blasphemy conviction sparked violent protests, seen here on Sunday, calling for the mother-of-five to be executed
‘Hang Aasia’! Supporters of hardline Islamist party TLP hold protests across the country after Bibi’s conviction was overturned by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last week Wednesday
The protests only subsided after Khan’s government made a deal with hardline Islamist that they could appeal her release, and that Ms Bibi would have to stay in the country
‘They were of the view that I was the prime target to be killed, and that my life was in imminent danger. For three days they did not let me open the door, one day I called the French ambassador and said I do not want to be here.’
The lawyer had previously told AFP before his departure on Saturday that he was leaving because ‘in the current scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan’.
Malook arrived in The Hague at the weekend after a short stopover in Rome, with the help of the HVC Foundation, a Dutch group that focuses on the human rights of Christian minorities.
Asia Bibi spent nearly a decade on death row after being accused of blasphemy following a dispute with fellow villagers over drinking from the same bowl of water. The charge is an inflammatory one in Muslim-majority Pakistan.
But she remains in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan struck a deal with the Islamist hardliners behind the protests to bar her from leaving until a final court appeal is heard.
Former cricket legend Khan has faced accusations of a capitulation to ultra-conservative Islamists who called for the assassination of the country’s Supreme Court justices and mutiny against the army’s top brass in the ruling’s wake.
Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih, seen [left] with their daughter Eisham,, speaking about her plight said they will have to leave Pakistan for their own safety. The family have appealed to Donald Trump and Theresa May for asylum
President Khan’s first wife, British activist and filmmaker Jemima Khan, joined the chorus chiding the premier for backing down, saying his administration had effectively signed Bibi’s ‘death warrant.’
However her attorney Malook dismissed the deal as a ‘face-saving’ exercise for the hardliners from the Tehreek-e-Labaik party and insisted that Asia Bibi would ‘100 percent’ be freed soon.
‘This compromise is nothing but a piece of paper that can be thrown in the dustbin,’ he said.
‘The government cannot enter into any such agreement with anybody.’
It was not clear whether Bibi had any firm offers of asylum if she does leave Pakistan, added the lawyer, who said he was ‘legally authorized’ to choose a country for her.
Her husband has pleaded for international help to leave the country.
The lawyer said a UN official in Pakistan told him ‘we are taking care of her’ but that ‘when I said which country, they said we can’t say.
Bloodthirsty: Despite Friday’s deal, the ‘Hang Asia’ protests continued across Pakistan this weekend. Neither the ruling party nor the hardline opposition is mollified by the compromise. Aaia Bibi remains behind bars, her fate on a balance, her husband, children and members of her legal team terrified
‘I asked the French ambassador ‘would your country be willing to offer asylum to Asia Bibi. He said if you request us legally, I said ‘OK I request her’.’
Italian authorities had meanwhile apologised to him after he was held for several hours at Rome airport, Malook said.
The mayor of Paris on Monday said she was ‘ready to welcome’ Asia Bibi to Paris and urged the French government to intervene with Islamabad.
‘France has a duty to help her and her family by intervening with the Pakistani government so that she is allowed to gain asylum in another country where she will be safe and completely free to practise her religion,’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.