Young Pakistani Mother Falsely Accused of Blasphemy
Shamim Bibi, a young mother, has been falsely accused of “blaspheming” Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, because she rebuffed attempts by relatives, who had converted to Islam, to force her to renounce her Christian faith, family members said. According to Compass News, the young woman’s brother, Ilyas Masih, and her brother-in-law, Shahbaz Masih, told Compass that she had been wrongly accused because she had resisted pressure to convert to Islam four days before her arrest.
“Nazeeran, sister of Shamim’s husband Bashir Masih, and her nephew Nadeem and niece Bella accepted Islam on Feb. 24 and called on her to do the same,” Masih said. “She refused, telling them that she was satisfied with Christianity and did not want to convert.” He said the newly-converted Muslims persisted in trying to force her to convert, but she resisted.
“Shamim told them that she had complete faith in a living God,” Masih said. That remark, however, was not the one deemed “blasphemous.” Rather, on Feb. 27 her neighbors accused her of making derogatory remarks – as yet unknown -about Muhammad on a separate occasion while in her own courtyard.
Ansar Ali Shah, a local prayer leader, claimed that Shamim Bibi’s neighbors told him and other Muslims that they had heard the Christian woman making derogatory remarks about Muhammad, but there is no indication yet of what, exactly, Shamim Bibi was alleged to have said.
Upon her arrest on Feb. 28, police charged the 26-year-old mother of a 5-month-old girl, under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” statutes. In Pakistan, speaking ill of Muhammad is punishable by life imprisonment or death under the country’s internationally condemned blasphemy laws.
Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy law states: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
As word of the allegation spread, a large crowd of villagers besieged her house and demanded “severe punishment for the infidel,” claiming she had hurt their religious sentiments, sources said.
The Superintendent of Police Investigation, Irfan Ullah, acknowledged that one of the two witnesses had admitted to not being present at the alleged “crime” scene at the time of the remarks Shamim is accused of making. He vehemently denied that police had caved in to pressure from local Muslims and registered a case in undue haste. “I visited the village twice, and so far nothing has come up that suggests that the people have accused Shamim wrongly,” Ullah said.
In the meantime, Shamim Bibi’s family and her infant daughter may have to wait for a long time for her return. While no one has been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, most suffer for years under appalling prison conditions before they are freed on appeal.
Lord Jesus, You call us to remember our brothers and sisters in chains as though bound with them. We come before Your throne today on behalf of our sister, Shamim, asking that You would meet her and her family in this time of need. She has chosen to stand firm in her refusal to deny the “living God,” and we rejoice that You have strengthened her thus far. Cause grace to abound to her in prison – illuminate dark walls with the light of Your presence, lighten days of sorrow with the joy of salvation and overwhelm fears for the future with supernatural peace. Grant her favor with the courts and officials so that she may soon be restored to her family and that her story may be a testimony of Your power to rescue and save. In Jesus name, Amen!