Far right-wing group Majlis-e-Ahrar has taken exception to an interview of Aasia Bibi to The Sunday Telegraph, where she broke her silence about her ordeal of being on a death row for nearly a decade over false charges of blasphemy.
As per a news story in right leaning newspaper, Daily Islam, Majlis-e-Ahrar ul Islam Pakistan’s (MAI)’s secretary general Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema condemned Asia Bibi’s ‘allegations’ and ‘propaganda’ against Pakistan. The newspaper did not say what part of the interview in particular maligned her home country or offended the rightwing group but it must be her comment on the alleged misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
Abdul Latif Cheema referred to Asia Bibi as ‘Maloona’ (the cursed) and ‘blasphemer’, despite the fact that the highest court of justice in the country, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her of the blame.
“How will you explain her conduct?” Abdul Latif asked the ‘forces that helped Aasia Bibi’.
Screenshots of Daily Islam news story on Sept 3, 2019
Asia Bibi in her interview to the UK based newspaper expressed her gratitude to those who helped here achieve freedom. She also raised concerns over the misuse of the blasphemy laws, which she believes continue to subject hapless and innocent people of minority communities to death and imprisonment.
“This blasphemy law should be reviewed and there should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law,” Aasia Bibi said, “We should not consider anyone sinful for this act without any proof.”
The MAI reaction belies the former blasphemy accused’s right to freedom of expression as well as amounts to contempt of the highest court of justice, which unlike them sees her as an innocent citizen.
Right-wing parties like the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Majlis-e-Ahrar strongly protested the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi in November 2018 and dismissal of the review petition. Their leaders and followers took to streets and engaged in violent protests and arson. TLP leadership also issued fatwas and urged people to kill the Supreme Court judges behind the verdict. The widespread disorder led to a government clampdown on the group.