On January 28, Tabitha Nazir Gill, a Christian nurse working at the Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi, was beaten by colleagues who accused her of uttering blasphemous remarks against Mohammed.
After initially ignoring the accusation, police, under pressure from a "mob of mullahs and extremists," registered a blasphemy case under Section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code (Blasphemy Act), which could be punishable by the death penalty.
A witness at the scene, Francis*, reported the facts as they occurred: "Tabitha simply told a patient that she would pray for her as she went into labor and it was her first child. That's how it all started. The staff there jumped on her. She did her best to save herself, going from room to room, she locked herself in, but her colleagues went through a bay window to open the door. They hit her, and dragged her from the third floor to the first floor down the stairs."
This incident followed months of tension between the nurse and her Muslim colleagues, who were asking her to resign.
The videos, which are circulating massively on the networks, show Tabitha Nazir Gill distraught, claiming her innocence under the blows of her colleagues. "I swear to God I didn't say anything against the Prophet, they are trying to trap me with a false accusation." None of her words seem to mention Muhammad, contrary to the claims of her attackers. However, the complaint, under pressure from the mullahs and extremists, is currently being registered by the police.
According to the Pakistani Penal Code, "anyone who by words, visible representations, or any profane insinuation, violates the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad shall be punished with death." As explained by Anneqa Maria, a lawyer in Pakistan who defends people accused of blasphemy, "it is important to know that blasphemy does not require any effort to be proven. Just shout blasphemy, and the whole village, the whole town will support you, and the person will be executed without any evidence."
Currently, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, at least 40 people convicted of blasphemy are currently sentenced to life imprisonment or death.
While Tabitha Nazir Gill would be safe at this time, her future is very uncertain and we invite you to pray for her and all Pakistani Christians unjustly accused of blasphemy, either because of personal grudges or out of sheer persecution.
Sources: The Observers, Christian Info, Morning Star News, Fidès Agency.
* The name has been changed.