Pakistani police released a mother and her nine-year-old son accused of blasphemy after several days of holding them in custody because of increasing public clamor to set them free.
The mother, Shakil, and her son Inzam were apparently arrested when somebody accused the boy of desecrating the Quran.
According to a report from the British Pakistani Christian Association, someone at school accused Inzam of burning the Quran on Oct. 20. The following day, he was arrested along with Shakil, who was a nurse at the Civil Hospital in Quetta, after police filed the First Information Report.
Shakil and Inzam were held in custody even though no other witness was heard and no investigation was conducted regarding the matter. According to sharia law, which is upheld in Pakistan, the testimony of a Muslim witness bears more weight than that of a non-Muslim.
As news of their arrest spread throughout the community, outrage over the blasphemy accusation erupted from Muslims, and they threatened to attack a Christian community. In the midst of increasing tension, the police intervened and prevented a Muslim mob from pursuing their plans to attack.
Humanitarian organizations and local politicians called on the police to set the boy and his mother free. Finally, after not being able to produce evidence of the burning of the Muslims’ holy book, Shakil and Inzam were released four days after they were arrested.
However, they both reported that they were beaten and tortured in prison and were forced to confess to the crime. Fortunately, they did not give in and maintained their innocence.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been the subject of controversy because of claims that anybody can use it to exact vengeance or stir up anger and hatred toward someone.
"The blasphemy laws of Pakistan serve no purpose but to cause pain and anguish to innocent victims,” BPCA chairman William Chowdhry said in a statement. “They are used as tools for discrimination and to settle personal vendettas.”
Pakistan is 99 percent Muslim and has been identified by Open Doors as the sixth in the list of countries where Christian persecution is great. Honor killings, or killing people who have converted to Christianity, is still widely accepted in the country.
With the blasphemy laws in place, Christian persecution takes on a more intense level.
“Pakistan's refusal to reform or abrogate these laws should be recognized as a contravention of human rights especially freedom of religion, conscience and free speech,” Chowdhry said. “Action must be taken now before Pakistan a nuclear nation reaches a point of no return, especially considering the whipping up of hatred towards minorities that Imams in Pakistan use the laws to generate."
Despite the threat of persecution, however, Pakistan Christians are steadfast in their love for God and their fellow Pakistanis, according to Bruce Allen of Forgotten Ministries International.
“The Christians in Pakistan are very dedicated,” Allen said, according to Mission Network News. “They love their countrymen, they love God. So they’re very eager in their service of planting Churches and disciplining people.”
He urged believers from other countries to hold Pakistan and Pakistan Christians in prayer.