U.S. President Donald Trump should “absolutely” grant asylum to Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five acquitted by the Pakistani Supreme Court of a 2010 death penalty conviction for blasphemy against Islam, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News this week.
Although Pakistan’s top court cleared Bibi on October 31 and ordered her release, she remains in protective custody in an undisclosed location in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan agreed to allow a petition against the court’s decision as part of a deal to stop the protests that broke out after the court cleared her. The Supreme Court is Pakistan’s court of last resort, implying no further appeals should occur following its rulings.
Asked if the U.S. should follow suit and offer Bibi asylum during an exclusive interview with Breitbart News Deputy Political Editor Amanda House on Wednesday, Paul, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, responded:
Absolutely, and I’ve talked to the president about this and my hope is that he will offer her asylum here. This is a woman who is a Christian in a predominantly Muslim nation of Pakistan. She went to draw water from the well in a Muslim village and they began beating her with sticks and stones, and she laid bleeding asking for help. When the police came, they arrested her, not her attackers.
Echoing the Kentucky Republican, human rights groups like Amnesty International have determined that Muslims often use Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, which can carry a punishment of life in prison or death, to target Christians and other members of religious minority groups in the Muslim-majority country.
Citizens use the law repeatedly to settle personal disputes and vendettas, according to Human Rights Watch.
In Pakistan, “Christians are very much beleaguered and so are Hindus,” Sen. Paul told Breitbart News. “Any other minority religion [is] beleaguered in Pakistan and if ever there was a call for a refugee to be admitted into our country, I think this is one. ”
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Sens. Paul and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a resolution in April calling on Pakistan “to release Aasiya Noreen, internationally known as Asia Bibi, and reform its religiously intolerant laws regarding blasphemy.”
Last Friday, the Khan administration made a pact — considered a concession to extremists — with the anti-blasphemy Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party that orchestrated the riots that erupted across Pakistan soon after the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi.
Under the agreement, Islamabad is prohibiting Bibi from leaving the country while the Supreme Court reviews petitions filed against the acquittal verdict. Moreover, the Khan administration agreed not to block a TLP petition to add Bibi to a no-fly list. TLP has threatened to kill Bibi, her lawyer, and judges who cleared her.
Although Khan defended Pakistan’s blasphemy laws while on the campaign trail this summer, the PM has repeatedly voiced his support for the Supreme Court’s acquittal verdict.
The bipartisan resolution introduced by Paul and Coons in April urges Islamabad to “ensure that [Bibi], her family, and her legal counsel are afforded all necessary measures to ensure their safety.”
It also calls on “the Government of Pakistan to reform its laws to reflect democratic norms and ideals and work to promote tolerance of religious minorities, whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or other ostracized, so that no one is in danger of persecution from the government or their neighbors for exercising their right to free speech and practicing their religion.”
Watch the Full Interview: