In between the small amount of other news this week there has been a certain amount of attention on the plight of the Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi and her family. Bibi has spent most of this decade on death-row in Pakistan. Her crime is that a bigoted Muslim neighbour of hers made up a crock accusation against her and said she had blasphemed against Islam.
In the last week there has been some attention on the fact that various countries are looking into giving asylum to Bibi and her family – Britain among them. But it appeared earlier this week that the UK would not be offering this genuine asylum seeker any asylum because there were concerns about – ahem – ‘community’ relations within the UK should she be allowed to move here. There could be few greater demonstrations of what a mess this society has become than if the dynamics of the situation are indeed this way around.
So it is an interesting moment to consider a case of someone who has apparently been allowed to come to Britain and stay. Thanks to Hillel Neuer of the excellent UN Watch, I am made aware of the presence in London of Dr Ataollah Mohajerani, the former minister of culture and Islamic guidance in Iran.
Anyhow, among his many other attainments and achievements in life, Mohajerani is probably best known for his book-length defence of the Iranian government's call for the murder of Salman Rushdie. Mohajerani’s 250-page book (A Critique of the Conspiracy of The Satanic Verses) was written after the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa calling for the murder of the British novelist. But as this piece here points out, Mohajerani kept up his hatred of Rushdie. In 2007, when Rushdie was awarded a knighthood, Mohajerani wrote an article criticising the government of Tony Blair and called Britain ‘a strange land with a government that acts strange.’
Nevertheless, after having some dispute with the regime he previously served so loyally, Mohajerani appears to have spent recent years in the UK – either under a visa or with indefinite leave to remain status.
All of which throws the debate over the case of Asia Bibi into an even bleaker light. There is much to be said about asylum laws in the UK. But that this country would give sanctuary to somebody who led a campaign of incitement against a British citizen and should seemingly refuse entry to a woman who is among the most wronged people on the planet, is a demonstration that, whether or not this is a strange land, we have certainly had government after government in recent years that has – in the matter of asylum – acted very strangely indeed.