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Pakistani Christian loses her job and home after false blasphemy charge

A Christian widow, Musarrat Bibi was exonerated on the 8th of December 2023. She had been falsely accused of desecrating pages of the Quran whilst cleaning a storeroom at the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Punjab.

The 45-year-old Christian widow had also performed clerical work at the school and ran an individual shop to boost her income. A Muslim teacher named Muneera incriminated Bibi. Muneera held a grudge against Bibi after she refused to clean a toilet a few days before the unproven incident. According to Bibi: “I had simply told Madam Muneera that I was an office worker and it was not my responsibility to clean the toilet, but she insisted nonetheless”. Kashif Nadeem, Muneera’s cousin, provoked the crowd and named Bibi as the prime suspect.

Despite Bibi’s release on bail, the school management decided not to allow her to work there anymore. Due to the stigma and danger associated with the blasphemy charges, she could not have won against a 96% Muslim majority. She also started receiving death threats in the village where she lived. One of her school-attending daughters was forced to drop out of education.

Bibi revealed the details in a phone interview: “I was given the government job in place of my deceased husband, Barkat Masih, who was a teacher. Everything was going well till the time I was implicated in this fake case. When I returned home after bail, I began receiving threats from unknown persons that even though the court had freed me from jail, I was still guilty of committing blasphemy, and they would not spare my life. I had no other option but to flee the village with my daughter. It’s been nearly seven months now that we are on the run, constantly changing our locations to avoid being traced. But I’m praying and hoping that God will make a way for me to get the same job in some other district. The false accusation has ruined my life, forcing me to seek refuge in different locations since the time I was freed on post-arrest bail.”

According to Bibi’s attorney, Lazar Allah Rakha, Judge Tariq Mahmood acquitted the widow from the charge under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which carries a compulsory life imprisonment sentence. The judge accepted Allah Rakha’s statements that the defendant had not intentionally desecrated the pages of the Quran: “The judge also noted the gaps in the police investigation, observing that there was no private witness and that the school council had also admitted that the alleged act was not intentional”. 

Rakha, a prominent rights advocate, also stated that Bibi’s case proves how a false accusation can haunt innocent people for the rest of their lives.

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