Islamabad [Pakistan], February 14 (ANI): Tabitha Nazir Gill, a Christian nurse working at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Pakistan's Karachi, was beaten by her Muslim colleagues on January 28, accusing her of blasphemy.
According to FRANCE 24 Observers, Nazir Gill attackers convinced police to register blasphemy charges against her - an offence punishable by death in Pakistan, where the state religion is Islam.
"Tabitha just said to a patient that she would pray for her, as she was going into labour and it was her first child. That is when everything started - the nurses who were there pounced on her. She was trying her best to save herself. She went from room to room, and locked herself in, but they climbed through the window in order to open the door. Once they opened the door, they asked the women to go in and beat her. They dragged her from the third to the ground floor on the stairs." FRANCE 24 Observers quoted a local chaplain.
A local chaplain said the incident was "pre-planned", and followed several months of tension between Nazir Gill and her Muslim colleagues, who had asked her to leave her job and get transferred to another hospital. He said the tension was due to Nazir Gill's faith: a Christian, she would tell patients that she would pray for their good health. Outside the hospital, she was also a gospel singer.
However, She was later taken into police custody, but they did not find anything that was blasphemous, so they sent her home.
But the next day, hospital staff and clerics went to the concerned police station, told the police that she spoke against the Prophet, and convinced them to file an FIR report with the 295-C blasphemy charge, FRANCE 24 Observers reported.
Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code states that "whoever by words, by visible representation or by any insinuation defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammed shall be punished with death, and also be liable to fine".
Meanwhile, there is no sign in any of the videos of the incident that are circulating that Nazir Gill made comments about the Prophet.
Reviewing the contents of Nazir Gill's FIR, Asad Jamal, a lawyer in Lahore, Pakistan, said that the contents of the FIR may be manipulated and that the complainant may have twisted facts - a common feature of many blasphemy accusations, FRANCE 24 Observers reported.
Citing a 2016 Amnesty International report, FRANCE 24 Observers reported that it is difficult to establish precise information on the number of blasphemy cases in Pakistan as there is limited available data. However, according to figures compiled by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and cited by Amnesty, at least 1,335 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan between 1987 and 2016.
According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, at least 40 people have convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan are currently facing life sentences or the death penalty.
Pakistan's population is 96 percent Muslim. Although most of the people accused of blasphemy in the country are Muslims, minorities like Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadis (a persecuted sect of Islam that the government has legally declared "non-Muslim"), are disproportionately affected by these laws. Although they make up about 3.8 per cent of the population, about 50 per cent of reported blasphemy cases are filed against them. According to the NCJP, 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused since 1987, reported FRANCE 24 Observers.
Moreover, Anneqa Maria, a lawyer in Pakistan who defends those accused of blasphemy, said that blasphemy law is often misused as a tool to settle grudges.
Nazir Gill and her family are currently in hiding, having been taken to safe haven by social workers and Christian leaders, according to our local sources. But even if the blasphemy charges are dropped, she and her family will still remain in danger, said Maria. (ANI)