February 24, 2011
A Christian woman in Faisalabad has been accused of blasphemy following a dispute over land. According to our colleagues in Pakistan, Agnes Bibi has been arrested and detained by the police. It is believed she was in competition for a valuable piece of land with local Muslims and that they accused her of blaspheming against Islam when they failed to take hold of it.
Her arrest has spread a fresh wave of fear among Christians in Faisalabad, who like Christians across Pakistan remain tense after a judge sentenced mother-of-five Asia Bibi to death for blasphemy last November. Asia remains in jail where she is awaiting the start of an appeal hearing at the Lahore High Court, which has been delayed due to threats being made against the judges.
Faisalabad is also the city in which two Christian brothers were shot dead by Islamic militants outside a courthouse where they had just attended a hearing on the blasphemy charges against them. Their killers are still at large.
CLAAS UK Coordinator Nasir Saeed said: “We are greatly concerned for the welfare of Agnes Bibi as we have already seen the extremes to which blasphemy charges can go with the case of Asia Bibi. She is fighting a desperate battle to have her death sentence overturned and extremists are offering rewards for anyone who takes her life if she is released. This is the reality facing victims of the blasphemy law. We ask that the charges be dropped and that Agnes be released from prison immediately.”