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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Theresa May criticised over Asia Bibi asylum claims 

The UK prime minister has refused to confirm if the government will offer refuge to Ms Bibi, who was recently cleared of blasphemy charges

Saif-ul-Malook, the Pakistani lawyer of Asia Bibi, has been threatened by hard liners (EPA)
Saif-ul-Malook, the Pakistani lawyer of Asia Bibi, has been threatened by hard liners (EPA)

Prime minister Theresa May has been condemned after she refused to confirm if the UK would offer asylum to Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi. There were reports Mr May had blocked an asylum bid by Ms Bibi, who was acquitted of blasphemy last month but has been held in a secret location since over fears for her safety. Mrs May denied the accusations in Parliment on Wednesday.

In response to a letter signed by over UK parliamentarians and bishops asking for Ms Bibi to be given safe passage to the UK, Mrs May said: “It is the long standing policy of the Government not to comment on individual immigration cases.”

The prime minister added she could not comment on details of the case “as this could compromise Asia Bibi’s long-term safety.”

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Mrs May did, however, appear to confirm that “a number of countries are in discussions to provide a safe destination” for Asia Bibi one legal processes were complete. Ms Bibi’s case is currently going through an appeals process.

Rehman Chishti MP said the response was “very disappointing” and showed a lack of leadership by Mrs May. The UK, US and Canada are among the countries mooted as potential places of refuge for Ms Bibi.

Hard-line protestors have led mass, and often threatening protests, over Ms Bibi’s acquittal. In June 2009 she had an argument with neighbours and is alleged to have made Islamophobic remarks.