The lawyer who helped free a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has received “temporary shelter” in The Netherlands, the Dutch foreign minister confirmed Thursday, November 8.
Saif-ul-Malook left Pakistan on Saturday, November 3, and arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol just days after his client Asia Bibi had been acquitted of blasphemy against Islam following eight years on death row.
“We offer Mr. Malook from Pakistan a place in the Shelter City program in the Netherlands for human rights defenders at risk,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok in a statement. “The situation of Asia Bibi has our full attention,” he added on social networking site Twitter.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Malook could stay for up to three months in The Netherlands. It was unclear what would happen after that period with the lawyer who says he faces death threats at home.
Earlier reports suggested that Bibi and her family were also on the way to The Netherlands. Pakistan’s government later denied that the Christian woman had left the country, but added that she was in “a safe location”.
RELEASED FROM PRISON
Bibi was released from prison Wednesday, November 7, in the city of Multan, after she was acquitted of blasphemy against Islam following eight years on death row. Dutch officials declined to confirm or deny reports that she had been met by a Dutch ambassador to help prepare her imminent departure from Pakistan.
The decision by Dutch Minister Blok to intervene came was welcome news for Dutch Christian foundation ‘Hulp Vervolgde Christenen’ (Help Persecuted Christians), which was involved in the case. The foundation had asked for assistance saying it lacked resources to pay much longer for the security and accommodation of Bibi’s lawyer in The Netherlands.
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SOURCE: Assist News, Stefan J. Bos