Newshour, Pakistan Minister - Asia Bibi's life 'not in danger'

Pak Supreme Court To Rule On Christian Woman Facing Death Over Blasphemy

The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman at the centre of a divisive blasphemy case on Saturday criticised a government deal with Islamists that left her in legal limbo, and called on authorities to protect her.

Pakistan police today arrested almost 250 people from across the country on charges of arson, vandalism and violence during the three-day mass protests following the acquittal of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

"If Asia Bibi leaves the country, every family member, every person associated to her, will be killed", he said.

Her husband Ashiq Masih has asked the United Kingdom to grant his family refuge amid fears for their safety.

Asia Bibi's acquittal last week prompted violent protests by the Islamist movement Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), and on Friday her lawyer Saiful Malook told CNN he was concerned for his life.

Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, has spoken in a video asking for asylum to be granted to the whole family and their guardian Joseph Nadeem in the United Kingdom, saying: "I am requesting the prime minister of the United Kingdom help us and as far as possible grant us freedom".

He also called for asylum from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump in the footage.

France and Spain have offered her asylum, while the former bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who is a Christian born in Pakistan, said Ms Bibi should be granted asylum in the UK.

On Wednesday, she won her appeal against the conviction and death sentence.

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The official route to asylum would mean the family would need to make the request after fleeing Pakistan.

Pakistan's supreme court said there was not enough evidence to convict her when she was acquitted this week.

The case began in June 2009 when Bibi was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields.

Other demonstrations have blocked key motorways to Islamabad, causing traffic jams.

Since the landmark ruling, radical Islamists have blocked highways and damaged or set fire to dozens of vehicles to pressure the government to stop Bibi's release from an undisclosed detention facility.

Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to hang after she was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during an argument a year earlier with Muslim colleagues.

Her current whereabouts is unknown.

The government also pledged not to oppose a TLP application to add Bibi to a list preventing her from leaving the country.

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