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Lawyer Of Acquitted Christian Woman Says EU, UN Made Him Leave Pakistan 'Against My Wishes'

Supporters of Jamaat-e Islami (JI), a Pakistani Islamist party, protest the acquittal of a Christian woman Asia Bibi after she was sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Supporters of Jamaat-e Islami (JI), a Pakistani Islamist party, protest the acquittal of a Christian woman Asia Bibi after she was sentenced to death for blasphemy.

The lawyer of a Christian Pakistani woman acquitted after she was sentenced to death for blasphemy says he was forced to flee to the Netherlands.

Saiful Mulook, who defended Asia Bibi in the Pakistani courts, said on November 5 that the United Nations and European Union made him leave the country "against my wishes" because his life was at risk.

Mulook told a news conference in The Hague that he contacted a UN official in Islamabad after Islamist violence erupted following the Supreme Court's ruling.

"And then they and the European nations' ambassadors in Islamabad, they kept me for three days and then put me on a plane against my wishes," Mulook said.

The lawyer earlier said he had left Pakistan "to save [my] life from an angry mob" and because of fears for the safety of his family.

Mulook said he did not know whether Bibi had already been released from prison, or where she would want to seek asylum after being acquitted by the Supreme Court on October 31.

"Ask the people of the UN", Mulook said. "They are not telling me, for security reasons."

Bibi's whereabouts is unknown.

Islamists have warned they will resume protests and threatened "war" if the Pakistani authorities allow Bibi out of the country. In a deal with TLP that ended the protests but came under criticism from western countries and human rights groups, the government on November 3 indicated it will bar her from traveling abroad pending a "review" of the Supreme Court decision to acquit her.

Earlier on November 5, Pakistan's government said Twitter had suspended the account of a radical cleric for posting inflammatory statements against the Supreme Court, prime minister, and military.

The Pakistani Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said it requested that Twitter suspend the account of cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi after his hard-line Tehrik-e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party blocked roads for three days last week and threatened the judges who acquitted Bibi.

PTA officials said they complained that Rizvi incited "hate and violence" by urging the cooks and servants of the Supreme Court judges to kill them.

There was no immediate comment from U.S.-based Twitter.

Criminal cases have been filed against hundreds of demonstrators and organizers of protests that took place during the past week against the court's decision, the Dawn newspaper reported on November 4.

Senior police officer Nayab Haider said that more than 150 people were arrested on charges of arson, vandalism, and violence during the demonstrations.

He said that police were using video clips to identify those involved in assaults, torching property and vehicles, and blocking highways.

A government official estimated that the protesters caused around $1.2 billion in damages.

Asia Bibi (file photo)
Asia Bibi (file photo)

Bibi, a mother of five, spent eight years on death row for allegedly insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad before being acquitted. Bibi has denied the charges.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, on November 4 pleaded for asylum from Western countries, saying his family is in great danger in Pakistan.

"I am requesting that [U.S.] President Donald Trump help us to leave [Pakistan], and I am requesting that prime minister of the United Kingdom help us and as far as possible grant us freedom," Masih said in a video message.

He also called on Canadian leaders to help.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumor of committing the crime has led to lynchings in the past.

Approximately 40 people are believed to be on death row or serving a life sentence in Pakistan for blasphemy, according to a 2018 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Dawn

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