Seema Bibi, a Christian woman from Pakistan, was recently humiliated, tortured and paraded in the streets of her village by a mob who accused her of "anti-Islam views."
Some 30 or so residents of Kot Meerath, a village in Pakistan's Punjab province, dragged her out of her house, shaved her head and then paraded her in front of the village, police officials revealed. After the Feb. 26 incident, the Bibi family were forced to flee the village in fear of their lives.
"She and her family had been facing threats from a group of extremist villagers. She left the village as she had no other option," shared Aslam Masih, a resident of Kot Meerath, PTI News reported.
Police acted decisively by arresting 26 out of the 30 people suspected to have been involved in the attack, charging them with torturing Bibi. Regional police chief Muhammad Amin had no information about where the Bibi family had escaped to, but revealed that the woman had been assaulted for her Christian beliefs in the largely Islamic community.
Christians have long experienced a high level of persecution in the predominantly Muslim nation. Last week, Christians and civil society groups got together for candlelight vigils in Pakistan's major cities to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of the country's Christian federal minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, who spoke against the repressive blasphemy laws.
Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in the country's cabinet, was shot to death by suspected Islamist terrorists on March 2, 2011 while he was on his way to a government meeting in Islamabad. The pamphlets found near the assassination scene bore the name of the terror outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab and stated, "Anyone who criticizes the blasphemy law has no right to live."
The blasphemy laws Bhatti opposed are embedded in Sections 295 and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code. These sections are often misused to target religious minorities – Christians, Shi'as, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus. They allow Islamist extremists to justify the killing of minorities and propagate their belief that killing a "blasphemous" person earns a heavenly reward. The laws carry no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness of blasphemy. Local Muslims are said to frequently seek revenge by making allegations against their adversaries who are non-Muslim.