PAKISTAN – Christian nurse accused of blasphemy defended by Islamic religious leaders


Karachi (Agenzia Fides) – “No one should be allowed to take justice into their own hands, nor to abuse the blasphemy laws.

All religious organizations and leaders have condemned the torture inflicted on the Christian nurse in hospital. The Government of Pakistan will not tolerate these abuses”. This is what Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Religious Harmony said. Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Muslim cleric at the head of the Council of Ulema of Pakistan, expressed outrage and sorrow for the violent treatment of Tabitha Nazir Gill, a Christian accused of blasphemy on January 28 while working at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital, promising a thorough investigation into the incident, in order to verify any abuse.

Tabitha Nazir Gill was accused of committing blasphemy by her colleagues on the morning of January 28, after which she was dragged across the hospital floor, beaten, threatened, tied up and tortured for hours until the police arrived and took her into custody.

The police officers, after an initial investigation, released her without charge (see Fides, 29/1/2021). However, the next day they registered a complaint (First Information Report) against her after protests by Muslim groups ( see Fides 30/1/2021), who accused her of having used derogatory words against the prophets Adam, Abraham and Mohammed, an offense punishable under Article 295 C of the Pakistani Penal Code.

Islamic leader Allama Shehryar Raza Abidi condemned the attack and violence and, in a video message, states: “It was shameful to see Muslim women beating a Christian woman and using offensive language towards her. This violence shows their extremism and fundamentalism, which are not teachings of Islam, and communicates a false message and image of Islam. This fundamentalism has nothing to do with Islam, which does not spread violence”.

Sharing his concerns about the recent case of Tabitha Gill, Shehryar Raza Abidi cites extrajudicial killings that took place in the past, recalling the case of the governor of Punjab, Salam Taseer, killed in 2011 only for noting the improper use of blasphemy laws. He adds: “If on the the one hand the killers are turned into heroes of Islam, it is a sad thing that damages the image of Islam and Pakistan. Islam teaches us to be on the side of the oppressed, to oppose violence, to protect the weak: as followers of the Prophet Mohammed, we must be merciful”.

The Muslim leader, expressing concerns over the growing extremism and fundamentalism in the country, comments: “Violent actions fail to deliver the true message of Islam and also damage our future generations. I urge all my Muslim brothers to be messengers of mercy and to love witnessing authentic Islam”. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/2/2021)

SOURCE FIDES

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