Jailed Pakistani Christian Woman Urges Prayers
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ISLAMABAD (Worthy News) – A jailed Christian woman has asked Christians to pray for her after spending a year in a Pakistani prison on what she views as trumped-up charges of blasphemy against Islam.
“I’m in prison for my faith and not for blasphemy,” said Shagufta Kiran in comments shared with Worthy News. Kiran was detained in July last year and is being held in solitary confinement, according to Christians familiar with her case.
Pakistani authorities say she shared a blasphemous text with others through the WhatsApp messaging service. She denied she knew the content of the message. In published remarks, Shagufta Kiran’s husband Rafique Maish recalled that armed police raided their home on July 29 last year, arresting his wife and two sons.
“They harassed my family and took possession of our telephones, computer, and other valuable items. The police were armed. They arrested Shagufta and my two sons without prior information or an arrest warrant.”
Though the sons were soon freed, his wife remained behind bars. Her husband reportedly said that on the fourth day of her detention, Kiran called him to say: “Don’t follow me onward now; I have admitted my ‘crime’ and am going to jail for 25 years.”
A special court already heard her case, and her next hearing date is July 16, Christians told Worthy News. “She knew nothing about the contents; she was not even the author of the post in question but was accused of passing it on,” her husband added in a statement monitored by Worthy News.
WIFE BEHIND BARS
He reportedly could visit his wife, who is kept behind bars, and needed a bulletproof van for the initial hearing amid concerns about attacks by Islamic extremists.
“The remaining family have fled Islamabad because of threats to their safety,” added the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS), a non-profit group supporting the family. “CLAAS is supporting them while they are in hiding and working for their safe resettlement,” said Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK.
He told Worthy News that he asked supporters to pray that “Shagufta Kiran will become stronger in her faith” as “life in solitary confinement is tough, but she knows that she has been targeted for her faith in Jesus.”
He also said it was essential to “Pray for the eventual court case to clear her of all wrongdoing” and “that she and their children can be safely re-settled and kept safe in the meantime.”
Pakistan has come under international pressure to overturn controversial legislation that provides for long prison sentences and even death for blasphemy.
CLAAS and other advocacy groups say blasphemy laws have been misused to settle personal grievances and often target minorities, including Christians.
Subsequent governments of the Islamic nation so far failed to overturn the blasphemy legislation.
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