A Christian staff nurse and gospel singer in Pakistan has been forced to go into hiding after she was accused of committing blasphemy by colleagues.
The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) reported that nurse Tabita was accused by her colleagues at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital, Karachi, where she had worked for nine years.
According to reports, Tabita was tied up and locked in a room before police were called to the scene.
The police took her into custody and brought her Aram Bagh, police station, in Karachi. Their investigation found that the charges brought against her were baseless.
With no previous complaints against her, the accusation was said to have been the result of a misunderstanding between colleagues. Tabita was cleared of all charges and has now gone into hiding.
CLAAS-UK were not able to give further details of the incident. When they contacted Tabita, she said that she was “not in the right state of mind to have a conversation”. However, she said she would explain at a later date
Nasir Saeed, the Director of CLAAS-UK, condemned the incident in a statement. He said he was relieved that accusations were baseless and praised the police for their impartial investigation. However, he noted that this will be of little comfort to Tabita.
“Unfortunately her life will never be the same again,” he said, “as she has already left her home and gone into hiding. But the most important thing is that she is not charged under the blasphemy law, otherwise she would have had to spend the rest of her life in jail.”
“According to our own study,” Saeed continued,”blasphemy laws continue to be misused by individuals to settle their personal scores.”
Last year, 58 people, nine Christians and forty-seven Muslims were charged with blasphemy. Saeed noted that “at least three innocent people – one Christian, one from Ahmadiyya community, and one Muslim – have been killed by individuals.”
He called on the government to look into “the growing misuse of the blasphemy law” against innocent people and suggested charges should be brought where necessary to prevent it.
He added that the breadth and vagueness of the blasphemy law which perpetuates its misuse.
“As we saw last year senior politician and ex foreign minister Khawaja Asif was accused of committing blasphemy when he said all religions are equal,” he said.
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