In a dramatic turn of events, a Christian woman facing the threat of the death penalty in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy against Islam has been successfully moved to safety in Sri Lanka, along with her husband and daughter. The daring rescue operation was orchestrated by Farrukh Saif and Keith Davies, the head of Rescue Christians, who acted swiftly just a day before the court announced her potentially fatal sentence.
Martha Bibi, 47, and her Christian husband, Boota Masih, were relocated to Sri Lanka, where they intend to apply for refugee status through the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). The move follows the established procedure for seeking international protection.
The persecution of Martha Bibi and her husband, both entrepreneurs, originated from a business dispute in January 2007 when she demanded payment from a lessee, Mohammad Rizwan, for an outstanding bill related to leased building equipment. In response, Rizwan accused her of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammad and Islam, triggering a chain of events that would jeopardize their lives.
A furious mob quickly assembled and marched towards their home. In a desperate bid for safety, Boota Masih sought refuge in the home of a sympathetic neighbor, Muhammad Rashid Mughal, who allowed them to hide from the angry crowd. With the support of the police, the mob eventually reached their home, threatening to set it ablaze if the family wasn’t handed over.
Martha Bibi was subsequently detained in Kot Nanak Singh in Punjab province on charges of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman. Despite her lawyer securing her release on bail three months later, concerns about her future persisted.
After six years of living in uncertainty, Martha Bibi faced the looming threat of the death penalty as she appeared before a Lahore court under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy legislation. Prompted by the severity of the situation, Christian activists arranged her relocation to Sri Lanka, averting the possibility of her becoming the second woman in Pakistan to face execution for blasphemy.
This rescue mission shines a light on the plight of individuals persecuted under blasphemy laws in Pakistan, emphasizing the urgent need for international attention and protection for those facing such dire circumstances.
Martha Bibi’s story is a testament to the ongoing challenges that religious minorities face and the importance of collaborative efforts to ensure their safety and freedom.
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