A young Christian mother has been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam at the insistence of some of her relatives.
Shamim Bibi (26), who has a three-month-old daughter, was arrested on 28 February and charged under section 295-C of the Pakistan penal code.
This prescribes a mandatory death sentence for ‘defiling the name of Muhammad’.
Mrs Bibi — no relation of Christian mother Asia Bibi, who is also in prison charged under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy law — was accused by neighbours of making blasphemous remarks against Muhammad while standing in her courtyard in Khichiwala, Bahawalnagar district, Punjab province.
According to Barnabas Fund, the accusation was made three days after Shamim’s sister-in-law, nephew and niece converted to Islam, and tried to force her to do likewise. Mrs Bibi’s brother Ilyas Masih said, ‘She refused, telling them that she was satisfied with Christianity and did not want to convert’.
It appears her sister-in-law then told some local Muslims that the Christian woman had insulted Muhammad, and they subsequently reported the false allegation to the village prayer leader. He in turn lodged a blasphemy complaint against Shamim with the police.
The accusation prompted a large number of villagers to descend on Shamim’s house, demanding ‘severe punishment’ for the young woman.