Tabitha Nazir Gill, a 30-year-old Christian woman, known for singing gospel hymns in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language, was charged with blasphemy on January 28, while working as a nurse at Sobhraj Hospital in Karachi, south of Pakistan.
She was beaten, dragged on the ground, insulted and tortured for hours by various colleagues and people until the police intervened. At first, the security forces found no evidence that Gill had committed blasphemy for which she was released.
On the afternoon of January 29, a crowd of people gathered in front of Karachi’s Aram Bagh Police Station to protest for the release of the woman and press for her to be reported. At that time the police officers registered the complaint against the woman for, according to Article 295 C of the Pakistani Penal Code, “having used derogatory comments made or written, directly or indirectly, that offend the name of Muhammad or the other prophets”.
Tabitha is accused of making disparaging comments against the prophets Adam, Abraham and Muhammad and of having proclaimed the name of Jesus to patients at the hospital where she worked.
Nasir Raza, Chairman of the “National Peace Committee for Interreligious Harmony” in Sindh province, comments: “Tabitha Nazir Gill, has been accused by her colleagues, with whom she has worked for 9 years. Tabitha, concerned, asked her Christian brothers and sisters to pray for her saying: ‘I am in a difficult situation, the Muslims in my hospital accuse me’ ; shortly after we learned that she had been accused of blasphemy.
In the videos sent us to report on the case and request protection from the woman, we see the nurses of the hospital staff beating Tabitha Gill; the woman denied having committed any crime ”.
According to the information received by Fides, it is a misunderstanding between colleagues, which degenerated into the dangerous accusation of blasphemy, which in Pakistan also provides for life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Nazir John, Chaplain of the Christian Doctors of the Archdiocese of Karachi , says: “I am very saddened to hear about the incident that happened with Tabitha. I know her personally, she is a woman of deep faith and loves to sing religious hymns. I have seen videos where she is beaten and tortured to confess to the crime and write an apology.
I honestly do not believe in the accusations that are made: I do not think that, as a dedicated and responsible person, the religious feelings of others can be hurt; furthermore, in the nursing profession she has always worked without discrimination of creed and caste ”.
As reported by CLAAS, in 2020, some 60 people, including nine Christians and forty-seven Muslims (mostly from the Shiite community) were charged with blasphemy, while at least three innocent people – a Christian, a member of the Ahmadiyya community and a Muslim – were killed in extrajudicial killings, linked to blasphemy charges.
“It is time for the government to analyze the matter thoroughly to stop the growing misuse of the blasphemy law against innocent people and make changes when necessary, since the wording of the blasphemy law allows continuous abuses,” they denounce from said organization.