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PAKISTAN – About-face of the police: Christian woman from Karachi denounced for blasphemy

Religious minorities in Pakistan are not allowed to live in peace.

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – With a sensational about turn, the police registered case no. 74/21 against the Christian woman Tabitha Nazir Gill, according to article 295 C of the Pakistani Penal Code, that is, for “having used derogatory comments pronounced or written, directly or indirectly, which offend the name of Muhammad or of the other prophets”. This is one of the articles of the infamous blasphemy law that makes so many victims in Pakistan and that is frequently abused and brought up for personal revenge.

Tabitha Nazir Gill, a renowned Christian evangelical singer who works as a nurse at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi, was accused of blasphemy on January 28 by her colleagues. She was beaten and tortured by hospital staff and visitors until police officers arrived and took her into custody.

As reported yesterday by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 29/1/2021) after investigating the case, the police officers of the Aram Bagh police station released the woman without formalizing any charges. On the afternoon of January 29, a crowd gathered in front of the police office protesting the woman’s release. The police officers then registered the complaint against the woman. According to the First Information Report (FIR), registered at the police station, signed and filed by Saba Wasi, one of the hospital’s Muslim nurses, Tabitha is accused of making derogatory remarks against the prophets Adam, Abraham and Muhammad and of having pronounced the name of Jesus to patients.

Fr. Nazir John, Chaplain of the Christian Doctors of the Archdiocese of Karachi, speaking to Fides said: “I am very sad to hear of what happened to Tabitha. I know her personally, she is a woman of deep faith, and she loves to sing religious hymns. I have seen videos of her where they beat and torture her to get her to confess her crime and write an apology. I honestly do not believe in the accusations against her: I do not believe that, as a dedicated and responsible person, she hurt the religious feelings of others; moreover, in the nursing profession, she has always worked without any discrimination of creed and caste”.

The case presents itself as yet another exploitation of the blasphemous law since everything seems to have sprung from a quarrel that took place among the nurses in the hospital. Some Muslims recognize this and defend Tabitha. A Muslim nurse who works with Tabitha Gill, in her message sent to Fides, notes: “I condemn the brutal tortures inflicted by hospital staff, visitors and patients, against Tabitha; there is no evidence that she used derogatory remarks about anyone. There arethe videos in which it is clear that she was tortured and beaten in the hospital”. She adds: “We are all equal human beings, I have been working with Christian nurses for years and I have never seen any of them carry out irresponsible actions. According to our profession, we take an oath to serve humanity, without any distinction or religious discrimination. I also ask the medical staff of our hospital not to spoil the name of Islam by turning personal issues into a religious one: personal misunderstandings can be addressed and resolved with the help of the hospital management”.

Rana Mehboob Ali, a Muslim man present in the hospital, shares his thoughts with Fides: “When police officials investigated the matter and did not find the Christian woman guilty, at the same time I also appealed to government officials to take act of the accident. Those who trample on individual rights and do justice to themselves should be punished, the charge of blasphemy cannot be decided by simple individuals, because they can act for personal reasons, nor registered in the wake of a popular protest. We must allow citizens of religious minorities to live in peace in Pakistan”. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2021)

SOURCE: FIDES

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