Police in Pakistan charge vulnerable Christian woman with “blasphemy”

19 June 2024

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Police in Pakistan have arrested a vulnerable Christian woman for alleged “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, following an accusation made by a shopkeeper in Lahore, Punjab province, on 4 June.

Jamila Jacob, who has mental health problems, was charged under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries a mandatory death sentence.

Shopkeeper Asif Ali filed a first information report against Jamila at North Cantonment police station, claiming she made derogatory remarks against Islam after becoming unhappy over a brand of shampoo on sale.

Christians praying in Pakistan. Believers are especially vulnerable to false accusations made under the country’s “blasphemy” laws

Eyewitnesses and neighbours, however, stated that the disagreement was minor and did not involve any “blasphemous” remarks.

Jamila was arrested at her home after a mob gathered and demanded that police take action against her.

The latest allegation of “blasphemy” has heightened anxiety among the Christian community. It follows mob violence in Sargodha, also in Punjab, on 25 May, which led to the death of an elderly believer over baseless allegations that pages of the Quran had been desecrated.

Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations in order to settle personal grudges. Christians are especially vulnerable, as simply stating their beliefs can be construed as “blasphemy” and the lower courts usually favour the testimony of Muslims, in accordance with sharia (Islamic law).

Ask the Lord to draw close to Jamila and give her strength and comfort while in custody. Pray that justice will prevail and that the authorities will come to realise that the allegations against Jamila are baseless.

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