By LE Desk
June 22, 2021: The Pakistani lawyer who helped free Asia Bibi, who was acquitted after spending years on death row in a blasphemy case that attracted international condemnation, has claimed that his life is in danger.
Lawyer Saif ul Malook has over the years successfully overturned a number of convictions for blasphemy in Pakistan. He said on Monday that several posts on social media had called for his “execution”, as per a BBC report.
Saif ul Mulook had reportedly left Pakistan in 2018 due to fear that he could be attacked after the conviction of Asia Bibi was overturned. Asia Bibi, a mother of four, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She maintained her innocence, but spent most of the time in solitary confinement. She was eventually acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2018.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or other religious figures can be sentenced to death if found guilty. While Pakistan has yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, just the accusation of blasphemy can incite riots and lynching.
Saif ul Malook most recently oversaw the acquittal of a Christian couple who had been sentenced to death in Pakistan.
A Pakistani appeals court earlier this month acquitted a Christian couple sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.
The appeal of their 2014 death penalty by Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel from the country’s eastern Punjab province had not been heard until now for unexplained reasons, Saif ul Malook had said.
The two were arrested in 2013 and tried on suspicion of sending a blasphemous text message to a local cleric in Punjab.
The Lahore High Court in June overturned the death sentence and ordered the couple released. They had been on death row in two separate prisons, and would be freed after all the paperwork was done, said the lawyer.
“I am happy that justice has been done to this poor wife and her husband,” Saif ul Malook had said.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a review of a preferential trade status given to Islamabad in 2017 and demanding the release of the couple.
The EU Parliament in April had also asked Pakistan to immediately repeal its blasphemy laws.