No asylum please, we’re British

There have been stories for a couple of days – in the Guardian and the BBC I think – saying unconfirmed reports were that the UK government was refusing to give asylum to Asia Bibi. The Telegraph had a similarly tentative report yesterday:

Britain has not offered asylum to a Pakistani Christian woman freed after eight years on death row for blasphemy because of fear it would prompt “unrest” in the UK and attacks on embassies, her supporters claim.

“Her supporters claim,” but is it true? Unclear.

The mother-of-five remains hidden in Pakistan after Imran Khan’s government agreed to allow a petition against the court decision, as part of a deal to halt the protests.

A UK campaign group in touch with the family said the British government was working to help Asia Bibi, but had stopped short of offering asylum.

So, what, they’ll help with her luggage?

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: “Britain was concerned about potential unrest in the country, attacks on embassies and civilians.

“They have not offered automatic asylum, whereas several countries have now come forward. They won’t be coming to Britain. The family will definitely not be coming to Britain.”

He said Britain was “being helpful”, but it was “an enduring shame that a country with such a lauded history of helping refugees and asylum seekers, that when the Asia Bibi case has come before them, they haven’t been as generous as they have for many victims in the past”.

He went on: “It does seem to me that Britain is now a country that is unsafe for those who may be tarred with an allegation of blasphemy. We are very aware that there are extremist elements in this country.”

“Britain would have been one of their first choices. America, Britain and Canada, these would have been their first choices. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth.”

Fuel for the fires of the anti-immigration brigade, too, unfortunately.

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