The additional session court in Lahore, Pakistan, granted bail to a Pakistani Christian couple, Shaukat Masih, and his wife, on October 19. They had been arrested on September 7, 2023, on charges of blasphemy related to the Quran.
Section 295-B of the blasphemy law, which imposes severe penalties, including the possibility of a life prison sentence, is associated with these charges. This section pertains to those who deliberately disrespect, damage, or misuse a copy of the Holy Quran or its parts disrespectfully or unlawfully.
Before the incident, Kiran’s employer’s sister gave her some waste papers to sell, unaware that these papers contained pages from the Holy Quran. On September 7, Muhammad Taimoor, the complainant, visited their home, discovered the pages, and reported the alleged blasphemy to the police.
Given the tense situation in Lahore, where religious clerics called for the couple’s execution from the mosques, the police immediately arrested the couple to calm the enraged crowd.
It’s worth noting that both Shaukat and Kiran, who cannot read and write, were charged with blasphemy against the Quran. The couple has three children: Sabir (12 years old), Sundas (6 years old), and Rubi (5 years old). They used to live in a rented house but moved to their current residence, provided by Shaukat’s Muslim employer, around six months ago. Shaukat worked as a watchman, which included housing, and Kiran found work as a domestic worker in the same house.
After spending a month and a half in jail, the couple was released on Saturday and reunited with their children. Due to threats from Islamists, the couple is being kept in a safe location.
Misuse of Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan:
Blasphemy laws sometimes discriminate against religious minorities, such as Christians, Hindus, and non-Muslim communities. These laws can oppress minority groups and restrict their freedom of expression.
People frequently misuse blasphemy laws to make false accusations against individuals, often leading to their arrest, imprisonment, or even death. False allegations may be made for personal or political gain, and the accused may face severe consequences without due process.