Home News Arrest on blasphemy charges raises alarm in Lahore's Christian community

Arrest on blasphemy charges raises alarm in Lahore’s Christian community

Police arrested Jamila Jacob, a Christian woman, on allegations of blasphemy in Lahore, Pakistan on June 4 at a local shop owned by a certain Asif Ali.

Ali accused Jacob of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad after a disagreement over a shampoo purchase. 

He claims Jacob disparaged an Islamic inscription within the store, stating “Jesus Christ is better than your prophet,” which led him to file a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal, a law that prescribes severe penalties for blasphemy, including death.

Jacob, reported to have a mental disability, was taken from her home and arrested amid heightened tensions, with a mob forming and demanding justice. 

Eyewitnesses and neighbors, however, present a conflicting narrative, suggesting that the exchange was minor and did not contain blasphemous remarks.

Human rights groups and civil society organizations have condemned the arrest, citing concerns over the misuse of blasphemy laws to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas. 

“These laws are increasingly weaponized against vulnerable communities,” said Nasir Saeed, Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) UK. “This is the latest in a troubling pattern of attacks and false accusations against Christians in Pakistan.”

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Saeed also referred to a recent case in Sargodha, where a Christian man, Nazir Masih, was tortured and his property destroyed, with perpetrators yet to be held accountable. 

“The attack on Nazir and the lack of accountability sends a chilling message to all religious minorities,” Saeed said.

The incident comes as Pakistan remains a focal point on international human rights platforms for its controversial blasphemy laws. 

Ranked seventh on the Open Doors 2024 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution, activists and community leaders are calling for reforms.

“Immediate legal reforms are crucial to prevent the misuse of these laws,” urged an advocate from a local human rights group. “Without change, the fear and violence targeting religious minorities will persist.”

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