Christian Woman in Pakistan Falsely Accused of Blasphemy by Muslim Neighbor Miraculously Acquitted

( [email protected] ) May 27, 2016 03:16 PM EDT
A Christian woman living in Pakistan who stood her ground despite being accused of blasphemy by her Muslim neighbor has miraculously been acquitted of all charges.
A girl plucks cotton blooms from a field on the outskirts of Faisalabad, Pakistan, August 27, 2015. REUTERS/Fayyaz Hussain

A Christian woman living in Pakistan who stood her ground despite being accused of blasphemy by her Muslim neighbor has miraculously been acquitted of all charges.

According to a report from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Pakistani woman, Sonia, was accused of blasphemy by her Muslim neighbor, Poma, who stitches clothes for living. Poma reportedly entered Sonia's house to inform the family that their children's clothes were ready to be picked up, and saw a political poster on the floor from a recent election that contained names and pictures of politicians.

While the poster had nothing to do with religion, Poma left Sonia's home and told her fellow Muslims that the Christian woman had committed blasphemy. Later that day, a mob of 80 angry Muslims gathered outside Sonia's house, demanding to see the poster.

Sonia's brother, Shaukat Gill, complied, and invited a few individuals from the mob inside his house to inspect the poster. After viewing the poster, the Muslims left to discuss the matter at a local mosque.

Soon thereafter, police arrived at the scene to get an account of what had transpired and to determine whether the poster was offensive, and decided Sonia was innocent. However, the Muslim clerics and mob were not convinced, and began forming a group to "teach her a lesson."

Sonia told the European Center for Law and Justice's (ECLJ) office in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA, who came to help with the case), that, "several Christians and Muslims suggested that I should flee, but I said that if I did, angry protestors would harm other Christians and their property. Whatever they want to do, they should do it to me and not to others."  

Refusing to back down, Sonia said the real reason she was accused was because three years ago Poma's sister-in-law eloped with Sonia's Christian cousin, and relationships between Christians and Muslims are viewed as incredibly dishonorable for Muslim families.

Thankfully, several Christians and Muslims, with the help of local law enforcement officials, decided to discuss the details of the situation and resolved the issue. After the meeting, the cleric of Gulzar-e-Madina Mosque, who had earlier filed a complaint against Sonia with the local police accusing her of blasphemy, said that he investigated the matter and no evidence of blasphemy could be found. He also admitted that he did not seek any legal action in this matter.

While Sonia's case was resolved, others living in Pakistan have not been so fortunate. The country's notorious blasphemy laws, which carry life in prison or the death penalty as punishment,  often target Christians, which make up just 1.6% of the country's population.

As reported by The Gospel Herald, the Lahore High Court recently upheld the death penalty of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother-of-five who was convicted of blasphemy.

She was sentenced in 2010, a year after she was accused. Bibi was harvesting berries with a group of Muslim women, who accused her of drinking from the same water bowl as them. Following an argument, the women told a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against Islam.

Last November, a Pakistani mob beat to near-death a Christian and his pregnant wife for her alleged 'blasphemy', then threw them both into the large kiln where they both worked as bonded laborers, according to the World Watch Monitor.

In September, a Christian man was arrested on charges of blasphemy after his business rival, a Muslim, claimed in a police complaint that he defiled the name of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The complaint was lodged after the Christian man got a contract for building material that complainant had also applied for, according to a report by a local group, The Voice Society.

Pakistan, the world's second largest Muslim country, is ranked #6 on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians, and has received the maximum score in the violence category.