Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Although the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told AFP news agency that his country already is talking to Pakistan regarding granting asylum to Aasiya Noreen, commonly referred to as Asia Bibi or Asiya Bibi, the Netherlands had already offered asylum to her. But the British government turned-down her asylum plea citing the reason of possible reaction from the Muslim community in that country. In recent years, United Kingdom has been witnessing the alarming rise of radical Islam.
“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with AFP. “There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country.”
Bibi, a mother of five who is believed to now be in her 50’s, was secretly moved to a “safe house” from the prison by the Pakistan authorities while her passport has already been prepared.
Bibi’s problems began when Muslim co-workers refused to drink water from a bowl from which she had taken a sip and demanded she convert to Islam. Her refusal prompted a mob to later falsely allege she had insulted Muhammad. She was convicted in 2010 under section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code that punishes blasphemy against Islam’s prophet with the death penalty. She was sentenced to execution by hanging.
In 2017, Senators Rand Paul and Chris Coons introduced a resolution urging Pakistan to release Aasiya Noreen, commonly referred to as Asia Bibi or Asiya Bibi, a mother of five from Nankana area of Punjab province.
According to the BBC, Bibi’s husband has requested asylum in the U.K., U.S. or Canada, saying the family is in danger. The Netherlands offered temporary asylum to Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, after he faced death threats.
According to AFP, the Pakistani lawyer who saved the Christian woman convicted of blasphemy from death row said Monday that the UN and EU made him leave the country “against my wishes” because his life was at risk.
Saif-ul-Malook, who has fled to the Netherlands, said he contacted a United Nations official in Islamabad after Islamist violence erupted following the Pakistani Supreme Court’s acquittal of Asiya Bibi.
“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, but everybody said that you are the prime target at the moment and the whole world is taking care of Asiya Bibi.”
“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 November 3, 2018 that he was leaving because “in the current scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan”.
Saif-ul-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.
No one cares about a friend of Israel!
While the entire world is expressing concern on the case of Asia Bibi, there is total silence from the international community on the case of Bangladeshi journalist and editor of Blitz, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.
Blasphemy laws are not only applied to various individuals in a radical Muslim dominated Pakistan, but in 2003, similar law was applied when Bangladesh authorities brought a false charges of sedition, treason and blasphemy against internationally acclaimed multi-award winning anti-militancy journalist and editor of this newspaper, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Bangladesh authorities brought these charges against Mr. Choudhury for the “crimes” of confronting radical Islam and jihad; denouncing antisemitism and Holocaust denial; defending the State of Israel; and for promoting interfaith harmony.
Bangladesh considers Israel as an “enemy State.”
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released on bail from the prison in 2005 following intervention of Congressman Mark Steven Kirk. The United States Congress passed a bi-partisan resolution (HR-64/2007) in defence of Mr. Choudhury. Similar resolutions were also passed by the European Union Parliament and the Australian Senate.
In 2012 Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was sent back to prison and on January 9, 2014, the Metropolitan Session Judge in Dhaka (Bangladesh) convicted Mr. Choudhury with 9-year’s rigorous imprisonment. Although an appeal was filed with the High Court against this verdict, it has been pending hearing. Meanwhile on July 29, 2018, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released from the prison on serving his conviction period.
Since 2013, there has been alarming rise of radical Islamic extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh. Several secular bloggers and LGBT activists were murdered and or attacked by the local radical Islamic militancy groups. On July 1, 2016, several foreign nationals were brutally murdered at a café located at the diplomatic enclave in Dhaka. Although Bangladesh authorities had blamed local jihadist groups for this attack, Islamic State (ISIS) had claimed responsibility and even released video statement following this gruesome massacre. International media also had claimed of existence of Al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in Bangladesh.
Due to lack of security, following his release from the prison, Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has been staying at his residence and avoiding meeting people and even attending phone calls.
Mr. Choudhury is an Honorary Member of PEN America and recipient of several international awards including Freedom To Write Award (from PEN-USA in 2005), American Jewish Committee’s most prestigious Moral Courage Award (in 2006), Monaco Media Award (From Prince Albert-II in 2007) etc.
In the Muslim world, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the only known Zionist, who is extremely vocal against radical Islam and has been courageously defending the Jewish State despite series of adversities.
On condition of anonymity, a Western rights activist said, “The main reason behind silence on the case of Choudhury [Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury] is because of his support to Israel. Moreover, many people may not like to intervene into this case as he is a Zionist. There are controversies centering Zionism and Israel. Majority of the countries in the world are maintaining a balance on the Israel-Palestine issue. Most possibly because of this they are refraining from bringing up this case fearing wrath from the Muslim world and anti-Israel bloc.”