A Pakistani Catholic lady and her partially paralyzed husband, who have been on dying row for seven years on false blasphemy expenses, give a private perception into their journey from going through dying by hanging to discovering refuge in Europe.
“Though we’ll miss our nation, we’re completely happy to lastly be someplace protected,” Shafqat Emmanuel mentioned in an interview with the Austria-based ADF Worldwide, which helped him and his spouse, Shagufta Kausar, escape from Pakistan amid dying threats final August regardless of their acquittal two months earlier.
“I noticed the police beating my father. He’s paralyzed from the waist down, so he did not really feel ache in his legs, however additionally they hit him in his face and beat him with gun butts on his again. They pressured him to say that he had dedicated blasphemy,” mentioned the couple’s son, Zahmat Akhtar, reflecting on the time of his dad and mom’ arrest in June 2013, in an interview that is a part of a documentary launched by ADF Worldwide.
The Catholic couple have been accused by an area imam of committing blasphemy by sending him an offensive textual content message.
Maulvi Mohammed Hussain, a frontrunner at an area mosque, claimed that Emmanuel used his spouse’s cellphone to ship an anti-Islamic textual content message. He later claimed different messages adopted. Hussain mentioned he was praying when he acquired the offensive textual content message from an unknown quantity.
Emmanuel was the watchman of a faculty within the Gojra space of Toba Tek Singh district in Pakistan’s Punjab Province on the time of the couple’s arrest.
The Muslim cleric reportedly confirmed the textual content message to 2 different imams earlier than approaching his counsel for authorized proceedings. He and his lawyer later claimed they each acquired subsequent blasphemous messages.
Emmanuel was tortured into making a false confession. Police beat him and threatened to strip his spouse bare and make her stroll throughout city. The couple’s kids witnessed it and cried. “That broke my coronary heart,” Emmanuel mentioned.
“On the time of my arrest, there have been many law enforcement officials. They threw me to the bottom and beat me badly. Then they took me to a room and hung me the other way up,” Emmanuel added, describing the torture and humiliation as a “doomsday” for his household.
In 2014, a session courtroom sentenced the couple to dying by hanging below Pakistan’s blasphemy legal guidelines.
When the couple was acquitted final June, they confronted dying threats by extremists.
Christians are sometimes focused by each Pakistan’s blasphemy legal guidelines meant to guard Islamic sensitivities and by hardliners who perform violence and have killed scores of believers up to now a number of years.
“We’re delighted that Shagufta and Shafqat have been, in the end, launched and have reached security,” mentioned Tehmina Arora, director of Advocacy, Asia with ADF Worldwide. “Sadly, their case will not be an remoted incident however testifies to the plight that many Christians and different spiritual minorities expertise in Pakistan at this time. Whereas the fitting to spiritual freedom is protected by the Pakistani structure, many face extreme persecution and denial of their basic rights to freedom of expression and meeting.”
The blasphemy legislation, embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, is often misused for private revenge. It carries no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy.
Islamist extremists additionally use the legislation to focus on spiritual minorities — Christians, Shias, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus. Dozens have been killed by mobs after being accused of the crime.
“The persecution of blasphemers will not be one thing of the previous, neither is it as far-off as we enable ourselves to suppose,” mentioned Emma Webb, who directed the documentary. “Shagufta and Shafqat’s religion within the face of dying will not be solely harrowing and miraculous. It serves as a warning to complacent Western nations of the true, typically murderous, penalties accusations of blasphemy carry — as we simply noticed in New York, within the tried homicide of creator Salman Rushdie.”
She continued: “Our society, in failing to indicate the steadfastness and braveness of Shagufta and Shafqat, set’s our tradition down a harmful path — making it simpler for accusations of blasphemy to be weaponized towards political or spiritual opponents, free thinkers and creatives. In some ways, we now have internalized censorship as an alternative of responding to the realities of the issue worldwide. Their story serves as each a lightweight to the world, and a warning.”
© The Christian Submit