19:52 GMT19 June 2021
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    The family of Asia Bibi, who faced blasphemy charges in Pakistan carrying a death sentence, is now seeking asylum in a Western country after her acquittal sparked outrage among hardline Muslims. Her husband has asked Theresa May to give their family asylum, while their lawyer sought refuge in the Netherlands.

    Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini noted that Italy was working "discretely" with other Western countries on the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted in a blasphemy case.

    "It is not permissible that in 2018 someone can risk losing their life for a hypothesis of blasphemy," Salvini told Italian radio station RTL 102.5 on Tuesday.

    "I will do everything humanly possible to ensure a future for this girl," he later pledged on Facebook.

    It separately emerged that Asia Bibi's lawyer, Saiful Malook, is waiting for an asylum offer from the Netherlands, where he fled last week. The Dutch news outlet NU.nl quoted Malook as saying that he would return to Pakistan "to be killed" if the Netherlands doesn't grant him asylum.

    In late October, Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned an 8-year-old death sentence for Bibi, a mother of five who was convicted of blasphemy after a row with Muslim neighbors, who said that she insulted Prophet Muhammad by drinking water from a common glass as she was not a Muslim.

    The acquittal has provoked mass demonstrations in Pakistan, with protesters demanding that the authorities reverse the decision in favor of the death penalty, and take action against the judges who ordered the woman's release. Asia Bibi has faced death threats, and several Western countries, including France and Spain, have offered her asylum.


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    refuge, asylum, Asia Bibi, Matteo Salvini, Italy, Pakistan
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