Blasphemy Accusations on the Rise in Pakistan

white jail cell door with skeleton key keyhole representing where those accused of blasphemy go

Since December, Christians have faced a rise in blasphemy accusations specifically targeting Christians in Pakistan. People often use accusations of blasphemy against Islam as a weapon used to achieve personal or professional gain. There is no presumption of innocence in Pakistan, so those accused of blasphemy can be jailed for years. The punishment for blasphemy is death, whereas those proven to have made false accusations may only face six months in prison or a fine of just 1,000 rupees (US$6).

Christians who are falsely accused of blasphemy do not often make it to court unharmed as these accusations can spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.

“It’s devastating to see how Christians are treated in Pakistan because of their faith in Jesus and to know that many of the persecutors will not be held responsible,” says Director Don Shenk. “Many Christians around the world face difficulties, persecution, torture, and death because they are in the religious minority.”

Religious minorities make up 54 percent of all blasphemy accusations in Pakistan, despite the minorities accounting for only 3.6 percent of the population.

On January 28, 2021, Tabitha, a Christian nurse, was falsely accused of committing blasphemy while working at a hospital in Karachi. The incident took place after Tabitha found a Muslim coworker taking tips from clients against the hospital’s regulations.

In response, the Muslim coworker falsely accused Gill of committing blasphemy and incited violence against her colleague. Gill was tied up with ropes, tortured, and locked in a room before being taken into police custody. Police found no evidence of blasphemy and released Gill who has since gone into hiding, fearing vigilante violence.