Mentally Challenged Christian Woman Arrested on Blasphemy Charges in Lahore


Pakistan: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) In a disturbing turn of events, Jameela Bibi, a mentally challenged Christian resident, found herself behind bars after a trivial altercation with a shopkeeper escalated into serious accusations of blasphemy. The incident, which occurred on June 4th, has sent shockwaves throughout the Christian community in Lahore and raised concerns about the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

Jameela Bibi’s ordeal began innocuously enough when she visited Ashiq Super Store to purchase a sachet of Sunsilk Shampoo. However, a simple disagreement over the type of shampoo quickly spiraled into a heated exchange of abusive language between Jameela and the shopkeeper, Muhammad Asif. Despite Jameela leaving the scene thereafter, Muhammad Asif proceeded to file a complaint against her at the North Cant Police Station, alleging that she had made blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad.

Subsequently, an FIR (First Information Report) under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code was registered against Jameela Bibi, leading to her arrest by the police. This swift action, taken despite her mental challenges, has not only shocked but also instilled fear within the Christian community of Lahore.

The repercussions of Jameela Bibi’s arrest have been profound. Fearing a potential mob attack, many Christian residents of the area have vacated their homes, seeking refuge elsewhere. Religious leaders, including Pastor Asif Khokhar and Pastor Samson Anayat, have petitioned the Inspector General of Punjab, Dr. Usman Anwar, urging him to ensure the safety of Christian residents so they can return to their homes without fear of persecution.

This incident has reignited concerns about the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan, particularly in the wake of recent violent attacks against Christians. The memory of the brutal beating of 76-year-old Christian businessman Nazir Masih in Sargodha remains fresh in the minds of many (click here), further exacerbating fears within the Christian community.

Jameela Bibi’s family attests to her mental challenges, describing her tendency to wander the streets, often engaging in activities such as begging or collecting plastic bottles. Yet, despite her vulnerability, she now finds herself ensnared in a legal battle fraught with grave consequences.

The British Asian Christian Association (BACA) is in touch with Jameela Bibi’s family and is offering support in any way possible. An update on her situation is expected tomorrow. In the meantime, BACA has initiated an appeal to commission a legal advocate for the family, requiring £1500 to cover the costs. Donations can be made to support this cause (here).

Juliet Chowdhry, TRustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:

“As Jameela Bibi awaits her fate, her case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the misuse of blasphemy laws and ensure the protection of vulnerable individuals, regardless of their religious affiliation or mental capacity.

“Only through concerted efforts to uphold justice and safeguard the rights of all citizens can Pakistan truly aspire to be a just and inclusive society.”

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