The lawyer who represented Christian mother Asia Bibi throughout her protracted legal battle against a bogus conviction of blasphemy has been nominated for a prestigious human rights award.
Saif-ul-Malook stuck by Bibi’s side during her decade-long incarceration on death row and played an instrumental part in her acquittal by the Supreme Court last October. Throughout his time working with Bibi, Malook’s life has been constantly under threat, even forcing him to flee to the Netherlands last December.
Despite the risk to his life, the brave and courageous lawyer has consistently declared that he is “proud of defending Asia Bibi.”
Now, his honorable work is getting the recognition it deserves.
It was announced earlier this week that European Parliamentarians had nominated Malook for the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award — a prestigious four-part prize awarded to those who have demonstrated these key principles outlined by former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “freedom of speech and expression,” “freedom of worship,” “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear.”
“The courage Saif has shown in the whole case is remarkable,” said Dutchman Peter van Dalen of the Holland-based CU-SGP party, who nominated Malook for the “freedom from fear” category.
“Despite the tensions surrounding the case and the threats to himself and his family, Saif-ul-Malook stood firm. He ensured that Asia Bibi had a strong defense,” van Dalen said in his statement, according to the Pakistan Christian Post.
Malook is a “modern-day Good Samaritan and an example of how we can help each other regardless of differences in our religions or beliefs” van Dalen noted, adding that it “is an honor to represent him for this prize.”
Malook’s bravery is notable not least because many public figures who have shown solidarity with Christians, or even hinted at attempting to change Pakistan’s archaic blasphemy laws, have ended up dead.
In 2011, shortly after Bibi’s conviction, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was brutally murdered for speaking out in support of the wrongly convicted Christian woman.
Shot dead on the streets of Islamabad, the governor’s own bodyguard was found guilty of the heinous crime and, though sentenced to death himself, he has since become a cult hero with a large shrine in his honor erected on the outskirts of the capital city.
Just two months later, Christian politician and outspoken critic of the blasphemy laws, Shahbaz Bhatti, was also assassinated — shot dead by the Pakistani Taliban as he traveled to work.
What is the latest on Asia Bibi’s whereabouts?
Though Bibi is still being held in Pakistan, the country’s prime minister has said that she will be able to leave imminently. It is expected that she will travel to Canada, where she has been granted asylum along with the rest of her family.
Speaking to reporters in Islamabad last month, Prime Minister Khan said that “she will leave Pakistan in a couple of weeks,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
In response to this update, a spokesperson for Canada’s Global Affairs Department told Faithwire that they were “prepared to do everything we can to ensure the safety of Asia Bibi,” adding “freedom of religion is a fundamental human right, and must be fully respected.”