A Christian family in Islamabad has been forced to flee Islamabad and go into hiding following a blasphemy accusation being leveled against them by a Muslim neighbor. Accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan are often false being motivated by personal gain, score settling, or religious hatred. Christians are disproportionately accused and convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which is considered a capital offense. Member to pray for this Christian family in hiding today.
12/17/2015 Pakistan (UCA News) – Salma had no idea that referring to an anti-Muslim video on Facebook would force her family to flee their Islamabad home.
“I have been living in Islamabad for eight years after my marriage. But we only had our clothes when we left. Is this justice? Did we deserve this punishment?” asked the mother of three, who requested that her real name not be used.
Her family is the latest among the victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Even allegations of a violations of these laws are hugely sensitive often leading to mob violence and extrajudicial killings.
Blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad carries a mandatory death sentence in Pakistan. The state has not carried out any executions for those convicted, but a number of people have been killed, some in prison or before their trial ended.
Blasphemy against the Quran is punishable with life imprisonment. Church leaders have long charged that the laws are abused for personal gain and that religious extremists are furthering their agenda by abusing blasphemy laws.
Salma alleges she got into trouble because she spoke about the controversial clip with a Muslim neighbor whom she owned 12,000 rupees (US$115).
“During a heated argument, he accused me of not respecting their religion. I accidently shared about a recent Facebook video against the Prophet Muhammad arguing that we Pakistani Christians respect Muslims more than the rest of the world,” she told ucanews.com.
Salma’s husband, a tailor, was summoned by community elders that same afternoon. He was asked to accept Islam or leave the city. When he refused, he was beaten before fleeing Islamabad.
The Catholic family is now hiding in Punjab province, fearful of their lives.
Media reports say 52 people have been murdered after being charged with blasphemy since 1990. These include 25 Muslims, 15 Christians, five Ahmadis, one Buddhist and a Hindu. Seventeen people are presently awaiting execution for blasphemy and at least 20 are serving life sentences.
The Pakistan Supreme Court in October called for improvements in the way blasphemy cases are processed.
“The majority of blasphemy cases are based on false accusations stemming from property issues or other personal or family vendettas rather than genuine instances of blasphemy and they inevitably lead to mob violence against the entire community,” the verdict said.