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Cousin of Pakistani ‘blasphemer’ receives death threat

Christian woman tells of Blasphemy accusation ordeal

By Sheraz Khurram Khan

11/21/07 PAKISTAN (ANS) — A Pakistani Christian man has received a letter threatening him “to convert to Islam or die” after he dared sheltering his cousin Martha Bibi, a woman, who was accused of blasphemy in January and later freed on bail in May of this year.

Martha served a term of 3 months and 13 days in jail after she was accused of passing derogatory remarks against the Muslim Holy Prophet, Mohammad.

Bibi started living with her cousin Mushtaq, 27, in the district of Kasur, 55 km southeast of Lahore , after her release. The young Christian man received an anonymous letter warning him of “consequences” for sheltering Martha on October 11.

“….if you do not convert to Islam within 10 days and admit … your mistake, you will be surely put to death. We will kill the blasphemer woman [Martha Bibi], her husband and those who shelter them,” the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan Chief, Sohail Johnson, quoted the letter as saying.

Teacher and part-time evangelist, Mushtaq told the ministry that he feared harm from the radical Islamists but he risked welcoming his hapless cousin at his place. Johnson said he visited Martha Bibi and family on 17 November 2007.

Beginning of the ordeal

Bibi confided to the ministry that soon after they had leveled the blasphemy charges against her, hundreds of angry Muslims attacked her home.

“My husband managed to flee with our children but the mob caught hold of me and handed me over to the police,” she told the SLMP.

“I was taken to district jail in Kasur at about 3:00 a.m. A female staff member locked me in a dark cell.”

Maltreatment

Bibi also alleged that she was deprived of food in the prison for a couple of days.

“The female warden of the jail hated me,” she was reported as saying. “I was kept in solitary confinement in a dark and dirty cell.”

Sohail told ANS that the blasphemy-accused woman only got food after a prison officer happened to visit her.

Martha Bibi disclosed to him that her family members were not allowed to visit her during her confinement.

“Only SLMP’s Pastor, Munir Phool, has been visiting me, and he also gave me a Bible which I was able to read in my cell,” she said.

Sohail said Bibi also alleged that the food brought to her by her loved ones was instead confiscated by the jail staff and instead given to the Muslim female prisoners.

Guilt and Concern

Sohail told ANS that Bibi felt both guilty and concerned after death threats were hurled at her cousin Mushtaq, who she stayed with after being freed from jail.

“He is receiving death threats because of me,” the SLMP quoted the woman as saying. “Even this place is no less than a prison for me. I do not feel comfortable going out to even shop for vegetables. My lawyer has also suggested that I should not go out.”

Regular Bible Reading

Martha Bibi told the ministry that she had been reading Bible during her imprisonment and also that she would pray for the protection of her children. She said of all her children she missed Maria, her youngest girl child, the most. The Chief Coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan prayed for Martha and her family to help them continue walking with the Lord.