April 30, 2019
Lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, who prevented the execution of a Pakistani Christian woman, has been nominated by several European Parliamentarians for a top rights award. Legislators say the lawyer should receive the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for his courage in defending Asia Bibi, who faced the death penalty in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy against Islam.
In November 2018, he fled Pakistan because of death threats from Islamists after Pakistan’s Supreme Court decided to acquit Bibi from all accusations of blasphemy.
When the Supreme Court decided to review the acquittal, Saif-ul-Malook returned to Pakistan to represent Bibi. “The courage Saif has shown in the whole case is remarkable,” said Dutchman Peter van Dalen of the ChristianUnion-SGP faction in the European Parliament. His office told BosNewsLife that several other European lawmakers also nominated the lawyer including Manfred Weber, the chairman of the influential European Peoples Party, and other parliamentarians.
The Four Freedoms Awards are presented annually to those showing a significant commitment to one of four principles proclaimed by late U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as essential to democracy: ‘freedom of speech and expression,’ ‘freedom of worship,’ ‘freedom from want’ and ‘freedom from fear.’
The prize is given in alternate years in New York City by the Roosevelt Institute to Americans and in Middelburg, The Netherlands, by the Roosevelt Foundation to non-Americans. Legislators nominate Saif-ul-Malook under the ‘freedom of fear’ category because of “the great courage” he showed while defending Bibi, explained Van Dalen. “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 he said in a statement.
Van Dalen described the lawyer as “a modern-day Good Samaritan and an example of how we can help each other regardless of differences in our religions or beliefs” and added that it “is an honor to represent him for this prize.”