CLAAS Press Release
19 May 2016

A Pakistani Christian seamstress narrowly escapes blasphemy accusation

A Pakistani Christian seamstress narrowly avoided a blasphemy accusation after the timely intervention of a senior police officer.

Sonia, a resident of Gujrat, Punjab, barely escaped the horror of such an accusation after one of her clients started to make claims against her.

On May 16 Muslim lady who belonging to a Kumhar (who makes pots from clay) family levelled blasphemy accusations on Sonia claiming that she was sitting on a panaflex containing Islamic script, which was spread on the floor.

According Sonia’s client, Haji Muhammad was printed on the panaflex and by means of spreading the panaflex on the floor and then sitting on it Sonia has conducted an act of blasphemy.

In no time, the accuser spread the news, which and a large mob of Muslims, including the local imam, started gathering, and later the mob marched towards the Sonia’s house. The situation became tense when the religiously charged and angry mob showed signs of reprisal and indignation.

After learning of the circumstances, a local senior police inspector, Ghulam Abbas, also arrived at the scene before the situation got worse and intervened.

He had a detailed conversation and then called both parties in the police station and advised them to remain peaceful and await the conclusion of the police investigation. During the investigations, the police found the allegations against Sonia were baseless.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said that Sonia had been lucky that the local police interfered in a timely manner, and through their investigations proved she had not committed blasphemy.

But he added: “Although Sonia has been declared innocent, a blasphemy accusation against anyone, especially against a Christian, is serious. Her family is still nervous and living in fear as some of the Muslims may still be angry. Vigilante justice is becoming common place as we have seen in the past in several cases.

“Unfortunately, as soon as the rumour spreads that someone has committed blasphemy, people become religiously emotionally and without thinking of the consequences take the law into their own hands.

“We have seen this recently in the case of Chak no 44 Mandi Bahaudin, where Imran Masih was accused by lay people of blasphemy for having a video on his phone. Luckily Imran fled before he was caught by vigilantes who wanted to burn him alive in front of the church.

“Aasia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after she was convicted of committing blasphemy during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.

“Her appeal is still pending in the Pakistan Supreme Court. I believe she will be freed one day but such a long sentence for a crime she has never committed is awful and question mark for law enforcement agencies, lawmakers and the justice system of Pakistan.