In a report shared with Voice of the Persecuted, Shagufta Kiran, a Christian woman from Islamabad, has been accused of blasphemy for simply forwarding a message. Shagufta was arrested on July 29 by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and still in their custody under investigation.
Shagufta’s husband, Rafique Maish, told the Pak Christian News (PCN) that armed police raided their home and arrested his wife and two sons accusing them of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law by forwarding a WhatsApp post which included blasphemous content.
He said: “They harassed my family and took possession of our telephones, computer and other valuable items. The police were armed with firearms instructed us not to move and to keep our hands up. They arrested Shagufta and my two sons without prior information or an arrest warrant.
“They took my wife and sons to the police station, charged Shagufta under 295-A and 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy but later on freed my sons.”
He said that they fled Islamabad because of fear and threats and have moved somewhere they feel safer.
Rafique further shared that Shagufta was arrested because she was a member of a WhatsApp group where someone allegedly shared a blasphemous message, which Shagufta forwarded to other persons without reading and knowing the consequences.
“Shagufta knew nothing about the post, she was not even the author of the post in question but was accused of passing it on,” Rafique explained.
Nasir Saeed, Director of the CLAAS-UK expressed his concern over the ongoing misuse and abused of the blasphemy law against poor and illiterate members of the religious minorities.
He said: “This is not the first time that someone has been charged for sharing a post on the social media, but there are several examples like Patras and Sajid and a young boy Nabeel who was recently granted bail, but the case against him is ongoing and he must prove himself innocent. Meanwhile the police have failed to find and arrest the authors of such posts.
“Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar have recently been released after seven years of blasphemy charges and have safely reached the Netherlands.
Their case was another which broadly followed the pattern of the case of Asia Bibi, who was acquitted by Supreme Court in 2018 but not everyone is lucky like them. Several are languishing in prison for years, but nobody speaks about them.